Skip to main content

Full text of "President Heber C. Kimball's Journal"

See other formats

Harold B. Lee Library 
Brigham Young University 

gift of 
Richard Hazelett 









yp q 



: L *V*ieSjSCs*K*n Ruins l^ Winter f I ^ SlJS 

5c ottsb/urf % , \ 

Chimney Rock 

A Garden Gr0 V 

Mtf.i- f <1 '■ '1/V / X «CVV' c ,e'irf "-* Quarters/// - f - n 

•Ifrr^-^^^ U' / ^~?^b ■ > — >°t^fr h Carde a' 








Points of Interest 

in the Life of 
Heber C. Kimball 

_ /. 


100 200 300 400 

■ ' ' -» 





Louis ./'"touisviiie. 7 ip,Ki'<; r.^MP 

Springfield lndianapfcl* 




















University of Illinois Press 
Urbana Chicago London 

1 98 1 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois 
Manufactured in the United States of America 


Kimball, Stanley Buchholz. 

Heber C. Kimball : Mormon patriarch and pioneer. 

Includes index. 

1. Kimball, Heber Chase, 1 801-1868. 2, Mormons and 
Mormonism in the United States — Biography. 
BX8695.K5K55 289.3'} [B] 80-21923 

ISBN 0-252-00854-5 

HA! C D& LET | ^o Y 
BRIGHAMVOI.n {. frx 

To Violet 


Preface xi 


i. New England Origins 3 
2. On the Potter's Wheel in New York 8 


1 8 3 2-4 6 
3. Ohio and the Call to Preach 27 
4. The First Mormon in the Old World 44 
5. Unknown in Missouri 55 

6. A Brief Sojourn in Nauvoo 64 

7. Second Mission to England 70 

8. New Experiences at Nauvoo 81 

9. A Time of Testing 93 
10. Preparations for the Exodus 113 


1 1 . The Trek across Iowa 1 29 

12. The Staging Ground at Winter Quarters 143 

13. Westward to Laramie 150 

14. ... And on to the Valley 163 

15. The Return 177 


16. A New Beginning in Deseret 187 

17. Administering the Kingdom 196 
18. Defending the Kingdom 206 

19. Kimball's Plantation 219 

20. Reluctant Polygamist 227 
21. Kimball at Home 245 

22. Reluctant Diplomat 260 

23. Brigham's Outspoken Preacher 268 

24. The Last Years 289 

Epilogue 303 

Appendix A. Wives and Children of H. C. Kimball 307 

Appendix B. The Estate 317 

Appendix C. Documents 321 

Bibliographic Note 325 

Index 327 


{following Part II) 

Heber C. Kimball, from the original daguerreotype, c. 1850-60. 

The Cock Pit, Preston, England. 

Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, Ohio, dedicated 1836. 

Heber C. Kimball home, Nauvoo, Illinois, c. 1910. 

"Crossing the Mississippi on Ice, Leaving Nauvoo," by C. C. A. 

"Wagons Preparing to Leave Winter Quarters in 1847," by C. C. A. 

"Handcart Pioneers," by C. C. A. Christensen. 
"The Mormon Battalion," by George Martin Ottinger. 
Drawings from original Mormon pioneer journal kept for Heber C. 

Kimball by Peter O. Hansen across Iowa in 1846. 
Drawings from Hansen journal. 
Drawings from Hansen journal. 

Vilate Murray Kimball, first wife of Heber C. Kimball. 
Heber C. Kimball, from the original daguerreotype, c. 1850-60. 
Six wives of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1888. 
Twenty-five sons and daughters of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City, 

Salt Lake City as it appeared during Heber C. Kimball's lifetime. 
Salt Lake City, c. 1871, from the hill on the north. 
Southeast view of the Valley, from Arsenal Hill, c. 1877. 
Old Kimball grist mill in Bountiful, Utah, c. 1907. 
The old Kimball homestead on North Main, Salt Lake City. 

Do your duty, and leave the rest to heaven. — Corneille 


Heber C. Kimball was early Mormondom's most colorful leader, third in 
stature after Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, most dedicated though re- 
luctant polygamist, and least inhibited preacher. No plaster saint, two- 
dimensional cardboard cutout, or religious ascetic, he was a masculine 
man, at home on the frontier, where he spent most of his adult life. 1 

For too long Heber has been known, if known at all, as Joseph Smith's 
missionary, Brigham Young's alter ego, or sire of the largest family in the 
Mormon Church, if not in the Western world. 2 But he was much more, as 
this work will show by presenting for the first time a full, affectionate, and 
candid portrait of this early leading Mormon Apostle, and an inside view 
of his unusual faith. 

No other Mormon leader has exceeded his total devotion to Mor- 
monism. For more than thirty-six years, in ten states and in England, he 
faithfully served his God and his people and strove to build both the spir- 
itual and material Kingdom of God. From his acceptance of the new faith 
in 1832 until his death in 1868 he was in the forefront of the excitement, 
drama, and turbulence of Mormon history. His life exemplifies most of the 
strengths of Mormonism and some of its weaknesses. 

The essence of Heber was his simplicity. Compared with the gothic 
nature of Joseph Smith or the baroque character of Brigham Young, Heber 
was rustic. As Douglas S. Freeman wrote of Heber's contemporary, Robert 
E. Lee, Heber was "humble, transparent, and believing." Surely the most 
uncomplicated of the early Mormon leaders, his doric nature produced 
strength and total integrity. 

Heber's personal conviction manifested the essence of Mormonism to 
this day: that the heavens, allegedly sealed since biblical days, had been 
reopened, that the Church of Christ, which had changed over the cen- 
turies, had been restored (not just reformed) in 1830 by Joseph Smith, 
God's latter-day prophet, and that it was his, Heber's, duty to take this 
message to mankind whatever the cost. 

His story and his life are uncomplicated. He wrestled little with mys- 
tic or psychological questions, or with the classical conflicts of man versus 


xii Preface 

self, men, nature, or God. Not that his life was placid: he was frequently 
ill, was hounded from five different homes, and was criticized in and out of 
his church. Furthermore, as a husband to at least forty-three wives, father 
to at least sixty-five children, and a grandfather three hundred times over, 
his portion of domestic discord and disappointment was probably greater 
than that of any other modern Western man. In keeping with his character, 
however, he simply ignored most troubles. He took life as it came, ac- 
knowledging the Book of Mormon imperative that "opposition is neces- 
sary in all things." 

An extension of his simplicity was his incurable optimism. He seldom 
complained or was discouraged. He was convinced that he was doing 
God's will — and that settled things in his mind. To him God's will was for 
him to do his duty, and his duty was simply to build the Kingdom with 
what talent and energy he had. 

Although not a learned or even a very literate person, he had a highly 
developed sense of history and dutifully kept journals and wrote long let- 
ters. In some instances they are the best extant accounts of the events they 
chronicle, and have been cited many times. Without his writing our under- 
standing of early Mormon history would be incomplete. He was the first 
diarist to be quoted extensively in early Mormon publications. Though his 
mastery of penmanship, spelling, and grammar was distinctly minimal, he 
did have a clear and artless prose style and an exceptional memory, and 
could dictate very well. 

Voluble, visible, totally lacking in sophistication, this guileless Na- 
thanael was an easy and ideal target for scoffers and detractors who de- 
lighted in pointing out his coarse language, his rambling style of speaking, 
his "arrogance," and his gauche references to women — something proper 
Victorians could neither ignore nor forgive. In spite of all this scrutiny, 
which he made no effort to avoid, no serious charges were ever sustained 
against him. 

Heber C. Kimball lived fully, dramatically, and well — making his own 
way in the world, going abroad, fulfilling eight missions, fleeing persecu- 
tion, crossing the plains, hunting buffalo, dealing with Indians, amassing 
wives, children, lands, cattle, and property, building the Kingdom, holding 
political office, damning his enemies, alternately praising and castigating 
his people, and suffering domestically and physically. His last years were 
saddened by what he took to be opposition from his closest friends, but he 
died confident that he had done his duty. 

Most of what has been written about Heber to date is hagiographic. 
His only biography, published in 1888 and still in print, is a noninterpre- 
tive torso, covering mainly a sixteen-year period from 1832 to 1848, from 

Preface xiii 

his acceptance of Mormonism to his life in Utah, based on an account dic- 
tated by Heber in Nauvoo. Little has been written of his first thirty-one 
years, less about the last twenty. The real, three-dimensional Kimball is a 
much more important and interesting person, a far more inspiring church- 
man than the one usually presented in Mormon literature. 

In this biography, Heber's many spiritual experiences are presented 
from his own viewpoint, allowing each reader to determine for himself 
their validity and meaning. His private family affairs are also tendered 
forthrightly and in detail, for it is here that he comes most to life. 

More important, a detailed study of his family life provides a unique 
antidote to the past and present sensationalism written about the Mormon 
system of plural marriage. His bluntness and saltiness are not glossed over, 
for they were part of his personality and style, his way of causing people to 
think, to reform, to do good, and to build the Kingdom. He once said of 
himself, "I am just what I am, and cannot be anything else." I have tried to 
be as honest with my co-religionist and kinsman as Old Testament writers 
were with theirs. Heber has not been prettied up for contemporary tastes. 

His life and development fall into four periods: his early life, work, 
and marriage in Vermont and New York up to his acceptance of Mormon- 
ism in 1832; the missionary and apostolic years through the Nauvoo pe- 
riod to 1846; a three-year pioneering interlude through 1848; and the 
First Presidency years in Utah to his death in 1868. 

All known sources bearing on Heber have been examined. To acquire 
the feeling of locale, to experience the power of place, I have visited every 
important region connected with his life and followed the trails he used 
from Ohio to the Great Basin. 

As a biographer, hedged round by the tyranny of fact, denied the om- 
niscience and omnipotence of the novelist, and restricted to incomplete 
and haphazard literary remains, 1 could not have succeeded without the 
help of many others. Often I have reflected on Carlyle's dictum, "A well- 
written Life is almost as rare as a well-spent one," and hoped to say, along 
with Sainte-Beuve, 'The portrait . . . speaks and lives; 1 have found the 
man!" In this respect I have been unusually favored. Thanks to Leonard J. 
Arrington, Mormon Church Historian, and Earl Olson, Assistant Manag- 
ing Director of the Historical Department of the Mormon Church, the 
vast catalogued and uncatalogued resources of the Historical Department 
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were placed at my dis- 
posal. Many other members of the Historical Department, as well as em- 
ployees of the Genealogical Society of the Mormon Church, went out of 
their way to ferret out obscure and revealing documents for me. 

Arrington read various drafts of the manuscript and gave advice and 

xiv Preface 

help throughout the project. His two assistants Davis Bitton and James B. 
Allen, and Ronald K. Esplin, a research historian, read various drafts 
of the complete manuscript and graciously lent their expertise. Maureen 
Ursenbach Beecher made many helpful suggestions in form and content. 
Edward L. Kimball read the final draft and gave much help and advice. 

Various specialists at the Utah State Historical Society and the Uni- 
versity of Utah, especially Martha Stewart of the former and Everett 
Cooley of the latter, gave advice. I benefited much from the counsel of 
other Utah scholars such as K. Haybron Adams, D. Michael Quinn, Reed 
C. Durham, Lowell M. Durham, Jr., the late T. Edgar Lyon, and various 
specialists at Brigham Young University. 

Special gratitude is extended to Spencer W. Kimball, President of the 
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a grandson of Heber C. 
Kimball, who generously let me use and copy his hundreds of pages of lit- 
tle-known Kimball materials. J. LeRoy Kimball likewise let me use and 
copy his important collection of Kimball documents. 

Two patient town clerks in Sheldon, Vermont, helped me solve the 
riddle of where Heber was born. J. Sheldon Fisher, George Hammell, and 
other specialists in the Rochester, New York, area provided me with much 
detail and insight regarding the Kimball family in the Bloomfield and 
Mendon, New York, area. One of the earliest thrills of discovery was 
thirty years ago in Preston, England, when an imaginative archivist helped 
me to unearth several Kimball documents from 1837 to 1838 which are, 
incidentally, the earliest records referring to the Mormons in the Old 
World. I have kept close to all sources but, at times, it was necessary to 
venture carefully beyond them. 

Of the many scholars, clerks, librarians, archivists, and friends who 
aided me over the years, I would like to thank Lawrence Foster and Danel 
Bachman for comments regarding plural marriage, Harry Gibson for help 
regarding Mormon firearms and terms, Eldon J. Watson for suggestions 
on the Adam-God theory, La Gene Purcell for help with Heber's short- 
hand, and many members of the Kimball Family Association, particularly 
Miss Pat Geisler, Mrs. Kenneth Huffman, Mrs. Major P. Garff, Mrs. John 
Francis Watson, Mrs. Jesse K. Burrows, Mrs. Elwood G. Derrick, Mrs. 
Biard E. Anderson, and James L. Kimball, Jr. Special thanks must be ex- 
tended to the late Paul Henderson, the great expert on the Oregon Trail in 
Nebraska and Wyoming, for his extensive help. 

I would also like to thank the Graduate School of Southern Illinois 
University at Edwardsville for many research and travel grants, and my 
colleagues Patrick Riddleberger of the history department and William 
Tudor of the Southern Illinois University Press, who read earlier drafts and 

Preface xv 

made valuable suggestions from the non-Mormon point of view. I wish 
also to express appreciation to Elizabeth Dulany and Nancy Krueger of 
the University of Illinois Press for their help and editorial skills. Portions 
of this text previously appeared in Brigbam Young University Studies, the 
Kimball Family Newsletter, and in Joseph E. Brown and Dan Guravich, 
The Mormon Trek West (Doubleday, 1980). 1 wish to thank the various 
editors for permission to reprint this material. 

As is always the case, however, the author is responsible for all errors 
of fact, interpretation, and judgment. 

Stanley B. Kimball 
Edwardsville, Illinois 
Summer, 1980 


1. Early Mormon leaders were reassuringly human. "I saw Joseph Smith the 
Prophet," said one contemporary and future president of the church, "do things 
which I did not approve of; and yet ... I thanked God that he would put upon a 
man who had these imperfections the power and authority which he placed upon 
him . . . for I knew I myself had weakness and I thought there was a chance for me. 
These same weaknesses ... I knew were in Heber C. Kimball, but my knowing this 
did not impair them in my estimation. I thanked God I saw these imperfections." 
Lorenzo Snow, as quoted in George Q. Cannon Journal, Jan. 7, 1898, Church Ar- 
chives, Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 
Salt Lake City, Utah. Hereafter cited as Church Archives. 

2. Technically Heber was a polygynist, a man having two or more wives at 
the same time. Polygamy means having two or more husbands or wives at the same 
time. Many Mormons try to avoid either term and prefer to use "plural marriage" 
or "plurality." This study uses the traditional term "polygamy" as well as "plural 

Heber is usually credited with forty-five wives (it appears he had but forty- 
three) and sixty-five children. For simplicity's sake all pertinent statistical and mar- 
ital data have been compiled in Appendix A. 






I am just what I am, and cannot be anything else. 
Journal of Discourses, January 11, 1857 


New England Origins 

Early in an October full of autumn color in 1832 a balding, powerfully 
built young blacksmith-potter turned his matched dapple-gray team and 
carriage off the dusty Chardon Road and headed up Temple Hill in Kirt- 
land, Ohio. Asking directions and hardly stopping to freshen up, Heber C. 
Kimball hurried on to Four Corners to find the Mormon prophet he had 
driven 300 miles to meet. He soon found Joseph Smith, very un-prophet- 
like, cutting wood with two or three of his brothers. Seizing Joseph's hand, 
Heber eagerly introduced himself as a new convert from Mendon, New 
York, who, with his two companions, Brigham and Joseph Young, had 
come to Kirtland to learn more of the new religion. Then, impetuously and 
in a burst of good fellowship, Heber grabbed a double-bitted ax and began 
hacking away at oak logs. Weighing 200 pounds, standing six feet tall, and 
barrel-chested, Heber was proud of his strength and liked to boast that he 
had never seen the day he could not "whip out" twenty of the best men. 
For a few minutes the two young men, Joseph, twenty-seven, and Heber, 
thirty-one, chopped together in friendly contest. As Heber later recol- 
lected, it "was just nip and tuck between us." ' Such was Heber's typically 
rough-and-ready introduction to Joseph Smith. 

Joseph invited the trio to his nearby home that evening, where, after 
sharing a meal, Heber learned from the Prophet's own lips the startling 
story of the Restoration, commencing with a theophanic experience in 
1820 generally known as the First Vision. In this vision, which came from 
petitioning God regarding which of the many contending faiths was cor- 
rect, Joseph reported he saw "two personages. . . . One of them spake 
unto me . . . and said, pointing to the other— 'This is My Beloved Son. 
Hear Him!'" Young Joseph was told to join no church for "they draw near 
to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." The Prophet went 
on to relate subsequent heavenly visitations through which he was pre- 
pared and called to become a latter-day prophet. He also told Heber and 


Brigham the story of the "coming forth" of the Book of Mormon, about 
the early difficulties in New York, the Lord's commandment to move the 
small church to Kirtland, and Joseph's call to build the Kingdom of God 
on earth. 

Heber tarried a week in Kirtland, being loath to leave the Prophet and 
the company of the Saints. Whatever reservations he had had about join- 
ing the new faith dissolved, and he decided to remove himself and his fam- 
ily to Kirtland. On the long return trip home via Erie, Pennsylvania, and 
Buffalo, New York, he may well have reflected on his life to that point and 
on what caused him to make such a trip and such a decision. 

Heber was a seventh-generation descendant of a New England family 
which had been in the New World since Richard Kimball and his wife, 
Ursula Scott, left Ipswich, Suffolk County, England, in 1634 to avoid 
Charles I's persecution of Puritans and Separatists. Two hundred and 
twelve years later, religious persecution drove Richard's fourth great- 
grandson, Heber, westward beyond the Rocky Mountains of the American 

Heber's grandparents, James and Meribah Kimball, seeking new 
lands and better opportunities, left their home in Hopkinton, New Hamp- 
shire, in 1796 and moved west to Vermont. They settled in the sparsely 
inhabited Sheldon town(ship), Franklin County, eleven miles east of Lake 
Champlain and nine miles south of the Canadian line. 2 This area, on the 
Missisquoi River, was known for its unsurpassed rich alluvial soil — so dif- 
ferent from the rocky land of much of New England. 

Shortly after James and Meribah moved to Sheldon they were joined 
by their six sons — Jesse, Moses, John, James, Stephen, and Solomon 
(Heber's father) — who bought up hundreds of acres of land. Solomon, 
born in Massachusetts in 1770, had been apprenticed out to a Mr. Chase, 
a commonsense country judge and blacksmith. He learned the trade and 
lived with the judge until he married Anna Spaulding of Plainfield, New 
Hampshire, in about 1794. Solomon "was baldheaded," Heber later re- 
membered, "had blue eyes, sandy whiskers and sandy complexion, five 
feet eleven inches high, weighed 200 pounds and upwards — was captain 
of a company of militia in Sheldon, and wore a cocked-up hat, of the Old 
English style, and straight long stockings and Hessian boots with a pair of 
tassels." * Solomon also participated in Sheldon town government as a 
grand juror, a captain in the militia, and a hayward in charge of fences 
around public pastures. 4 Heber wrote or spoke little of his mother. She 
does not emerge from the shadows. 

On April 1, 1799, Solomon and Anna bought 200 acres just north of 

New England Origins 5 

Sheldon Village near the confluence of Black Creek and the Missisquoi 
River. 5 There he farmed, grazed sheep, cleared land, did some black- 
smithing, and invested heavily in the manufacture of potash, the chief 
home industry and source of cash of northern and western Vermont. Pot- 
ash, an alkali used in the manufacture of soap and glass, was essential to 
the cleaning and manufacturing of woolen and linen goods, two of the ma- 
jor industries of England. 

Heber was born June 14, 1801, on the farm near the Missisquoi just 
three months after Jefferson 's inauguration and two years before the Loui- 
siana Purchase extended the borders of the young republic to the Rocky 
Mountains. He was named after his father's benefactor, (Heber?) Chase, 
who happened to visit Sheldon at that time, and was his parents' fourth 
child, after Charles, Eliza, and Abigail, and before Melvina, Solomon, and 
David, the son who died in infancy. His Vermont boyhood, his first ten 
years, was typical of his age, time, place, and station in life. He worked on 
his father's farm, herded sheep, cleared land, worked in the family smithy, 
and helped with the manufacture of potash, a tedious chore which he must 
have hated. The process consists of pouring water through the fine ashes of 
burnt hardwood trees to make lye, which in turn is boiled down in great 
iron kettles to a dense ashy deposit which must be chipped from the kettles 
or pots, hence its name. Economically the family was well off, and Heber's 
later memories of his early youth were mostly pleasant. 

He liked to fish in the quiet Missisquoi, and the beautiful rolling 
foothills west of the Green Mountains offered an inviting place to roam 
and game to hunt. In Sheldon Village, a short walk distant, a boy with a 
little spending money could buy hard candy or could hang around the saw, 
grist, or carding mills. 

The primitive village schools of those days provided scant formal ed- 
ucation. Children normally attended school for only a few weeks each 
winter, acquiring what in those days was called a "plain English Educa- 
tion" — the ability to read, write, and reckon. As an adult Heber was 
keenly aware of his lack of formal education and at times signed up for 
what later generations would call adult education classes. 

His religious education was even less formal than his schooling, tak- 
ing place exclusively in the home, as there were no organized church ac- 
tivities in the area at that time. His parents, however, saw to it that their 
children had a moral upbringing. Heber's mother was a sober Pres- 
byterian; his father was unchurched. This was not unusual: church mem- 
bership was at that time probably lower in the United States than in any 
other Christian nation. In r8oo, only about 7 percent of the American 
population were classified as active church members. 


However promising Solomon's future seemed in Sheldon, it was 
ruined by some early conflicts with England — conflicts which led to the 
War of 1812. During the Napoleonic Wars (1796-1815) the British, to 
stop American trade with France, preyed on American commerce. In an- 
ger, Jefferson induced Congress to pass the Embargo Act of 1807, pro- 
hibiting all foreign trade, even with Canada. This embargo, lasting four- 
teen months, seriously hurt northwestern Vermont, for the foreign trade 
of beef, pork, grain, lumber, and especially potash was her economic 

Among those ruined financially by the embargo was Heber's father. 
By 1809 Solomon had decided to do what many others were doing: go 
west and start over. Since the Revolution, western New York, the fastest- 
growing and most promising area in the country, had offered good, cheap 
land at attractive prices. Arranging for their uncles to help, Solomon 
turned the farm over to his older sons, Charles and Heber, then saddled up 
and left. At Scipio, New York, he fell in with another blacksmith and 
back-country judge, a Mr. Towsley. They worked their way west along the 
Seneca Turnpike and the Ontario and Genesee Turnpike (the superhigh- 
ways of that day) and concluded to settle in the newly founded village of 
West Bloomfield (Bloomfield town), Ontario County, New York. West 
Bloomfield, a likely social and economic hub about twenty miles south of 
Rochester, was so named because of the beauty of the landscape and fo- 
liage. It soon became the most populated town in Ontario County. Sol- 
omon set up a blacksmithy, "took up" some land, built a home, and early 
in 181 1 decided to move his family there. h 


1. From a speech excerpted in the New York Tribune, Nov. 10, 1865, re- 
printed in the Daily Union Vedette, Nov. 30, 1865. 

z. A New England town (cf. townships in other parts of the United States) 
contained several villages or communities, one of which frequently bore the same 
name as the town. This fact has created much confusion in the early history of the 
Kimballs, Smiths, and Youngs. Heber was connected with four such towns, each of 
which contained a village by the same name — Sheldon, Bloomfield, Mendon, and 
Victor. To prevent confusion, this study distinguishes carefully between towns and 

3. "Synopsis of the History of Heber C. Kimball," Deseret News (Mar. 
31-Apr. z8, 1858), Mar. 31, 1858. Hereafter cited as Deseret News, "Synopsis." 

4. Information gleaned from Sheldon Townhall Records. 

New England Origins 7 

5. Solomon's land dealings are recorded in Sheldon Land Records, vol. 1, 98, 
136, 159, 303, 188, 343, vol. 11, 101, 451, 451, Sheldon Townhall. Since there are 
several communities named Sheldon (Sheldon Village, Sheldon Springs, Sheldon 
Junction, and North Sheldon) in Sheldon town, we have never known just where 
he was born. A thorough study of the Sheldon Land Records, however, strongly 
suggests that Heber was born on the 200-acre farm his father had bought in 1799. 
Although Solomon sold or traded this farm for another just three days before 
Heber was born, it is hard to believe that he would have moved his wife prior to 
her delivery. But even if he did, the new farm which he bought or traded for was 
adjacent property. Heber would still have been born about one mile north of 
Sheldon Village near the Missisquoi River. Heber himself recorded, "I was born 
. . . between the Masisko [Missisquoi] and Black Rivers." Heber C. Kimball, Jour- 
nal 94b, 6, Church Archives. A monument to his birth was erected by the Kimball 
Family Association in 1 976 near the front entrance to the Sheldon Village Cemetery. 

6. See Bloomfield Land Records in the Monroe County Records Office in 
Rochester, N.Y., Liber 14, 180, Liber 15, 543, 544, Liber 19, 278, Liber 20, 150, 
410, Liber 23, 280, Liber 24, 455, Liber 29, 427, 428, Liber 49, 86, and Liber 58, 
317. This homesite commenced 274 feet west of the main intersection in Bloom- 
field on the south side of present-day Highway 5 and 20. The farm was located 2.5 
miles east of the south side of the same highway. 


On the Potter's Wheel in New York 

To a nine-year-old boy who had probably never been out of the county of 
his birth, the trip to West Bloomfield was an adventure, especially since 
the first 1 10 miles were made in a sleigh on frozen Lake Champlain to the 
extreme southern headwaters of the lake at Whitehall, New York. Solo- 
mon may have left during the winter of 1811 because traveling on the 
frozen lake was much preferable to the primitive, rutted roads bordering 
the lake and also because before the frost came out of the ground, mud 
made the roads beyond Whitehall almost impassable. 

Dashing down the lake between the Green Mountains of Vermont 
and the Adirondacks of New York, Heber would have passed frozen wa- 
terfalls, the Camel's Hump (the highest peak of the Green Mountains), 
and historic old Fort Ticonderoga. At Whitehall Solomon traded the sleigh 
for a wagon and proceeded west along the same turnpikes he had used 
previously, the family sleeping and eating at inns along the way. 

Once settled in West Bloomfield, Heber attended school off and on to 
the age of fourteen, when he went to work full time for his father as an 
apprentice blacksmith. His older brother, Charles, set up a pottery on his 
father's property. As teenagers, the two brothers enrolled in an indepen- 
dent horse company of the New York Militia in which they trained for 
fourteen years. Their service, which would have commenced in 18 17 or 
1818, was probably not very demanding and may have been required only 
quarterly or even annually. These occasional military drills were fre- 
quently more like holidays than serious maneuvers. The idea was to in- 
spect the equipment of the men and the state of combat readiness of the 
unit, and to drink many toasts. The uniform was specified as "citizen's 
dress"; that is, there was no uniform. Officers were distinguished by a 
sash, sword, epaulets, and hat plume. Heber was evidently well trained in 

On the Potter's Wheel 9 

riding, for at the age of forty-six he was still a good enough horseman to 
bring down a buffalo at full gallop. 

Ironically, the same Napoleonic War difficulties which drove Solomon 
from Vermont were the reasons for his initial economic success in West 
Bloomfield, near the U.S. military headquarters in the Lake Ontario re- 
gion. The War of 1 8 1 2 generated much business, and Solomon, busy mak- 
ing edge tools such as scythes, augers, axes, knives, and plowshares, kept 
eight forges going at once. He prospered, branched out into construc- 
tion — building homes, schools, and taverns — and bought land. 

Wartime booms, however, are frequently followed by postwar busts. 
Among those who declined financially after the war was Heber's father. In 
18 15 the family had to leave West Bloomfield and move to their farm two 
and a half miles east. Even then Solomon had to mortgage the farm for 
money to live on. At times all they had to eat was a little bread and boiled 
milkweeds. Solomon's financial reverses were so severe that during 1814 
and 181 5 he appeared as a plaintiff and as a defendant before the Ontario 
County Court of Common Pleas sixteen times. 1 Finally, it appears that he 
may have gone to jail for debts. On November 21, 1815, the Ontario Mes- 
senger reported, "By virtue of a writ ... to me directed and delivered 
against the goods and chattels . . . together with the farm on which the 
said Solomon F. Kimball now resides, containing 156 acres, and one vil- 
lage lot . . . also, 8 acres of land on which stands a pottery . . . which I 
shall expose to sale at public auction . . . F. N. Allen, Sheriff. 11 The same 
paper of January 2, 18 t6, ran the following: "Notice. All persons in- 
debted to the subscriber . . . are informed, that Necessity, the mother of 
inventions, compels him to call upon those who are indebted to him, to 
make immediate payment. Those who wish to settle with him are in- 
formed, that it can be done by calling upon him, in the village of Canan- 
daigua [location of the county seat and jail], where he has recently taken 
up his residence. Those who don't comply with this notice, will be called 
upon in the name of the People, whose imperious voice has placed him in 
this village. Solomon F. Kimball. 11 In Solomon's time and place most per- 
sons in jail were debtors, many owing less than twenty dollars. This un- 
wise and unjust practice was finally abolished by Congress in 1832. 

Somehow he settled his debts and the family remained on the farm. 
Heber continued to work for his father as a blacksmith until 1 820, when 
he turned nineteen. Then, as a result of the Panic of 1819, a severe post- 
War of 1 8 12 depression, and his father's continued financial reversals, he 
found himself a slightly schooled and unemployed blacksmith. His past 
had been uneventful, his present was bleak, and the future promised 


nothing. As he later wrote, "My father, having lost his property and not 
taking the care for my welfare which he formerly did, I was left to seek a 
place of refuge or home of my own at this time. I saw some days of sor- 
row; my heart was troubled, and I suffered much in consequence of fear, 
bashfulness and timidity. I found my self cast abroad upon the world, 
without a friend to console my grief. In these heartaching hours, I suffered 
much for want of food and the comforts of life, and many times went two 
or three days without food to eat, being bashful and not daring to ask for 
it." 2 

In the meantime, Heber's older brother Charles had established him- 
self as a potter in the town of nearby Mendon, close to the village of the 
same name. Organized in i8iz, Mendon was another promising location 
along the Genesee Turnpike and a good place for a pottery. All of the nec- 
essary natural resources — clay beds of high silica content, water, and tim- 
ber — were close at hand. The area also provided a growing market. At the 
invitation of Charles, Heber moved to Mendon in 1820 and became an 
apprentice potter, a decision which precipitated the three most important 
events in his life — his marriage to Vilate Murray, his meeting Brigham 
Young, and his acceptance of Mormonism. 

One of Heber's tasks as his brother's helper was to haul clay to the 
pottery and to transport the finished wares to various markets, including 
the nearby village of Victor (in Victor Township), Ontario County. The 
most direct road from Mendon to Victor was east along what is still called 
Boughton Hill Road. One hot day, during the summer of 1822, about two 
miles from home Heber became thirsty and stopped at a farmhouse on the 
south side of this road. Jumping from his wagon he asked for a drink of 
water — a drink that changed his life. 

The owner of the farm, Roswell Murray, with whom Heber may have 
had a nodding acquaintance, happened to be in his front yard. Exchanging 
pleasantries, Murray drew the requested water and called his sprightly six- 
teen-year-old daughter, Vilate/ to bring a glass and serve Heber. Standing 
under a shade tree, Heber, somewhat flustered by Vilate's appearance, 
mumbled some thanks and drove on. Up to this time in his life we can only 
guess what role romance had played. He had probably squired some 
young ladies to the Sulphur Springs resort, near Clifton, where there was 
dancing and, in the winter, sleigh riding. 4 In any event, as soon as decently 
possible, Heber arranged to become thirsty again in the same neighbor- 
hood and repeated his request. As Murray went to draw the water, Heber 
blurted out, "If you please, Fd rather Milatie [as he understood the daugh- 

On the Potter's Wheel u 

ter's name] would bring it to mc.' M Unoffended, and perhaps amused, 
Murray called for "Latie," as she was known in the family, and Heber and 
Vilate met for a second time. There, near the latticed wellhouse, with the 
father present and the eyes of the rest of the family on him, what did 
Heber, previously so bashful as to go hungry rather than ask for food, say 
to a sixteen-year-old young lady he had interrupted in her household du- 
ties just to hand him a glass of water? And how did Vilate respond? We 
will never know. Somehow, the awkward, unchurched, unschooled, un- 
sophisticated Heber courted her. He was then twenty-one, clean-shaven, 
already balding, large and strong but shy and gentle. Vilate, though young 
and inexperienced, knew a good man when she saw one. They were mar- 
ried the following November 7, 1822, most likely in the bride's home. 

At first the newlyweds lived with his brother or her parents. Soon, 
however, Heber bought out his brother's pottery, went into business for 
himself, and built a home. Land records suggest this first home was located 
about a quarter-mile east of "Tomlinson's Corners" on the north side of 
Boughton Hill Road, where Heber eventually owned property on both 
sides of the road. h 

The marriage seems to have been happy. Vilate, as well educated as 
was considered necessary for females in Jacksonian America, reared to the 
four cardinal virtues of 'True Womanhood" — purity, piety, submissive- 
ness, and domesticity — and the belief that the home was her refuge from 
violence and harm, was a good complement to her sturdy consort. More 
important, they seem to have married for love, not for the social or eco- 
nomic considerations common at that time. 

Vilate had grown up in a close-knit family in frequent contact with 
her farmer father, who was not away at a distant factory during most 
working hours. Heber, as a potter and blacksmith, likewise kept close to 
his wife and children. Ambitious and hard-working, he chopped wood, 
cleared land, did blacksmithing, planted an orchard, raised pigs, and built 
a barn and other outbuildings. His industry enabled him to make several 
additional land purchases. The Kimballs lived comfortably. As a potter 
Heber took pains to obtain good clay, even if it meant hauling it a great 
distance, and on a good day could turn out twenty dozen milk pans. Ap- 
parently he specialized in common brown ware made from fine-textured 
clay burned to a very high degree and covered by a hard brown glaze. It 
was used mainly for simple kitchen and table items — jars, crocks, pitchers, 
bottles, mugs, pots, milk pans, cups, churns, and plates. Despite his great 
output, no completely authenticated piece of Heber's work has been 


Heber and Vilate commenced their family immediately, for Judith 
Marvin was born July 2, 1823. Vilate's experience at childbearing was typ- 
ical: four children rather evenly spaced (through nursing) over eight years, 
though two of these four died before their first birthdays. William Henry 
and Helen Mar lived to maturity; Judith Marvin and Roswell Heber did 
not. Extending the immediate family were other Kimballs who also moved 
to Mendon. Heber's brother Solomon came, as did Heber's father after his 
wife died in 1825. 

Vilate did a lot of sewing and made many of the clothes for the family. 
From a local merchant she purchased for herself and her two children 
basics like calico, gingham, buttons, thread, indigo, and cloak clasps; for 
Heber plain shirting, green flannel, cambric, and mull. But once in a while 
she would splurge on pretty things, like blue satinette for William, and vel- 
vet, lace, and some silk twist for herself and Helen. Heber bought staples 
like iron, logwood, a scythe, as well as rifle powder, tobacco, and whiskey. 
The family also used nuts, pepper, tankey tea, and raisins and tried to 
ward off illness with the panacea of the day — sulphur and molasses." 

There is no evidence that Heber took much interest in three of the 
absorbing passions of his time and place: politics, religion, and education. 
About three years after his marriage, however, apparently in a desire for 
fraternal association with high-minded men (in a nonreligious atmo- 
sphere), for some benevolent activity, and perhaps for business connec- 
tions, he joined the Milnor Masonic Lodge No. 303 in the village of Vic- 
tor on September 14, 1825/ This lodge, founded in 181 8 and named after 
the Reverend James Milnor, a Grand Master in Philadelphia, had about 
eighty members, who met in Felt's Hotel each Tuesday before a full moon. 
The Master was Asahel Moore. 

In the young republic, Freemasonry was the most important frater- 
nal and benevolent society, and, among many, almost a surrogate religion. 
Most of the early patriots and Founding Fathers had been Masons, and 
because of them Masonic imagery and symbols, such as the all-seeing eye, 
the clasped hands, the beehive, square, and compass, were everywhere 
present in the architecture and iconography of the new nation. 

Heber took the first three degrees of the York Rite — Entered Appren- 
tice, Fellowcraft, and Master — and petitioned the Excelsior Chapter at 
Canandaigua for the advanced degree of the Royal Arch. Before the degree 
could be granted, however, an outbreak of anti-Masonry in western New 
York led to the closing (not burning as Heber thought) of the Canandaigua 
lodge and ended his participation. Although Masonry had been very pop- 
ular during and after the Revolution, with the growing democratization of 

On the Potter's Wheel 13 

America its secrecy and elitism came under increasing attack, especially in 
western New York. By 1826 the first official third political party in U.S. 
history, the Anti-Masons, was headquartered in that state. Little more is 
known of Heber's Masonic activity until 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois. 

During this early period, on the evening of September 22, 1 827, a ce- 
lestial phenomenon of "aerial combat" took place at which Heber and his 
neighbors marveled. Gathered outdoors, they saw a great smoky bow 
along which a vast army marched to battle. Heber's vivid description of 
this reads like many others from Virgil, through John the Revelator, to 
Shakespeare and beyond, and is typical of real and imagined "signs" con- 
nected with Christian millennialism. 

It was one of the most beautiful starlight nights, so clear that we 
could see to pick up a pin. We looked to the eastern horizon, and be- 
held a white smoke arise toward the heavens; as it ascended it formed 
itself into a belt, and made a noise like the sound of a mighty wind, 
and continued southwest, forming a regular bow dipping in the west- 
ern horizon. After the bow had formed, it began to widen out and 
grow clear and transparent, of a bluish cast; it grew wide enough to 
contain twelve men abreast. 

In this bow an army moved, commencing from the east and march- 
ing to the west; they continued marching until they reached the west- 
ern horizon. They moved in platoons, and walked so close that the 
rear ranks trod in the steps of their file leaders, until the whole bow 
was literally crowded with soldiers. We could distinctly see the mus- 
kets, bayonets and knapsacks of the men, who wore caps and feathers 
like those used by the American soldiers in the last war with Britain; 
and also saw their officers with their swords and equipage, and the 
clashing and jingling of their implements of war, and could discover 
the forms and features of the men. The most profound order existed 
throughout the entire army; when the foremost man stepped, every 
man stepped at the same time; I could hear the steps. When the front 
rank reached the western horizon a battle ensued, as we could dis- 
tinctly hear the report of arms and the rush. 

No man could judge of my feelings when I beheld that army of 
men, as plainly as ever I saw armies of men in the flesh; it seemed as 
though every hair of my head was alive. This scenery we gazed upon 
for hours, until it began to disappear. 9 

Some of Heber's neighbors thought the bow was one of the signs of the 
coming of the Son of Man. 1 " We do not know what Heber thought, but 
seven years later, after he heard a Mormon missionary preach, he had rea- 
son to reflect back on it and wonder. 



Death's pale horse was a frequent visitor to the Kimballs. By 1830 
Heber had lost not only two infants, but also his parents, his brother 
Charles, Charles's wife and their two children, and Vilate's mother." This 
series of deaths, so hard on Vilate that after her mother's death "she sank 
into a state bordering on despair,"' 2 came at the time of the religious up- 
heaval in western New York called the Great Revival. Nearby Rochester 
had been a center of religious revivalism and influenced the surround- 
ing communities such as Mendon. It was a center of the Baptist General 
Tract Society. Furthermore, the famous Presbyterian and Congregational 
preacher, Charles G. Finney, the most powerful revivalist of his day, 
moved to Rochester from New York City during September, 1830, and 
mounted the sensational Rochester Revival. 

Although belonging to no church, Heber and Vilate were caught up in 
this movement, 'i received many pressing invitations to unite with dif- 
ferent sects/' Heber later recorded, "but did not see fit to comply with 
their desires until a revival took place in our neighborhood. I had passed 
through several of their protracted meetings, and had been many times 
upon the anxious bench to seek relief from the bonds of 'Sin and Death,' 
but no relief could I find until the meetings were passed by." Late in the fall 
of 1 83 1 the Kimballs decided to accept baptism. "At this time," Heber 
added, "1 concluded to put myself under the watch care of the Baptist 
church and unite myself to them; as soon as 1 had concluded to do this, the 
Lord administered peace to my mind, and accordingly the next day I went 
with my wife and we were baptized by Elder Elijah Weaver, 1 * and we par- 
took of the sacrament on that day for the first and also last time with 
them." 14 

The Kimballs hardly had time to become active in the Baptist con- 
gregation before they learned of a new religion. About three weeks later 
(most likely in November) a Mormon missionary came into the area, and 
the entire course of their lives was changed. Within two years they would 
leave not only the First Baptist Church of Mendon but everything else in 
the Bloomfield, Mendon, and Victor areas and move to Ohio. 

In Mormonism the Kimballs would find their lives linked to two other 
families who had moved into western New York from Vermont at about 
the same time and for the same reasons. The Joseph Smith family settled in 
Palmyra; the Brigham Young family, after trying several other places, set- 
tled in Mendon. Although Palmyra, West Bloomfield, and Mendon lie 
within ten miles of each other, all three families were at first unknown to 
each other. The forming of the ties began in 1829, when Brigham Young 

On the Potter's Wheel 1 5 

moved from Oswego and joined the rest of his family in Mendon. Many 
years later in Salt Lake City, Heber told a New York writer: 

Came from there [New York] myself. Did't ye know that? 

Indeed! Is that so? 

Cer-t'\n\ Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, 'n I, were all neighbors 
when we were boys. Lived right'n the same school-deestrick, Ontario 
County. Our parents came therein settled when we weren't inore'n so 
high (the apostle flattened his broad brown hand about three feet 
from the ground). M 

It is not clear how Heber and Brigham met. Most likely it was through 
Brigham's widowed sister, Fanny, who was living with the Kimballs as early 
as 1827 to help Vilate, who was often sickly. 16 Further contacts between 
Heber and other members of the Young family were occasioned by com- 
passion. The Youngs "were in lowly circumstances," Heber recorded, 
"and seemed to be an afflicted people and of course were looked down 
upon by the flourishing church where we lived ... to them, my heart was 
united. . . ." 17 The resulting friendship between Heber and Brigham lasted 
until Heber's death more than thirty-nine years later. 

It is unlikely that the presence of the Mormon missionary would have 
caused the stir it did among the Kimballs and Youngs had they not been 
acquainted previously with newspaper and word-of-mouth accounts of 
Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Heber had heard and read rumors 
of "Old Joe Smith and a golden bible/ 1 18 and even before it appeared there 
were accounts in 1829 in the Rochester press about the "Blasphemy of the 
Book of Mormon." The Rochester Daily Advertiser and Telegraph of Au- 
gust 31, 1829, for example, reprinted a surprisingly accurate if unfriendly 
account from the Palmyra Freeman. 

The following September 5 the Rochester Gem published a similar 
account, and after the Book of Mormon was published, the Daily Adver- 
tiser and Telegraph of April 2, 1830, printed an uncomplimentary review 
of the book. Several of the Youngs, and probably Heber, had also read the 
Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith's younger brother Samuel, the first mis- 
sionary of the church, almost immediately after the March publication of 
the Book of Mormon had traveled through the surrounding area distribut- 
ing it. By April, 1830, Samuel reached Mendon. He entered Tomlinson's 
Inn and proceeded to interrupt the lunch of the first person he saw, who, 
providentially or otherwise, was Phineas Young, an itinerant preacher for 
the Methodist Episcopal Reformed Church and brother to Brigham. Sam- 
uel talked him into buying a copy — perhaps the single most important 


copy of the Book of Mormon ever sold. Phineas read the book and in 
quick succession so did his father, his sister Fanny, his brother Brigham, 
and "many others," most of whom accepted it. According to tradition, 
Heber read the same copy. 19 

Just what role the book played in Heber's conversion is unknown. He 
never alluded to his introduction to or study of the Book of Mormon and 
he seldom quoted from it in his sermons. The book is a long, sprawling, 
complicated account of God's dealings through prophets with a chosen 
people in the Western Hemisphere generally for the period 600 B.C. to a.d. 
400 — in short, a New World Bible. Unique in many ways, it recounts the 
life of a group of Old Testament people led by God into geographical isola- 
tion and spiritual quarantine and given a form of pre-Christ Christianity, a 
New Testament. 

Furthermore, this unusual record was intended mainly for future gen- 
erations. Engraved on thin metal plates by various ancient religious lead- 
ers, Mormons believe that it was ultimately "sealed up, and hid up unto 
the Lord ... to come forth [in the last days] by the gift and power of God 
... to the convincing of the Jew and the Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, 
the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations . . ." 2() to become 
eventually a second witness for Christ. It also offers a fifth or "American" 
Gospel (see 3 Nephi). 

Although the Book of Mormon has all the earmarks of an ancient, 
first-draft, religious record edited by a military man, and despite the fact 
that Mark Twain called it "chloroform in print," it is an exciting, readable 
adventure story. If, the first time through, it is read fast enough, its literary 
deficiencies and complexities are obscured by the grand sweep of the story 
line. The evolution of pre-Christ Christianity, wars, murders, burnings, 
beheadings, whoring, poisonings, storms, sunken cities, queens, kings, 
generals, robber bands, corrupt judges, villains, swordsmen, prophets, 
dreams, visions, miracles, and, above all, the visitation of the resurrected 
Christ — all can hold the reader's attention. 

The missionary Alpheus Gifford, from Rutland, Tioga County, Penn- 
sylvania, was travel ing^TFTarNovember with his brother and four friends 
who were investigating the new faith. They were en route to Kirtland, 
Ohio, to visit with Joseph Smith. Gifford, who had previously been an in- 
dependent preacher, was preaching along the way, and in the course of this 
"mission" came to the house of Phineas Young in Victor. 21 It is quite likely 
that Gifford learned from Samuel Smith that Phineas had a copy of the 
Book of Mormon and that the visit was a follow-up, or it may be that 
simply because Phineas had read the book, he invited Gifford and com- 
panions into his home to preach to his relatives and neighbors. 

On the Potter's Wheel xy 

Learning of this and prompted by curiosity, Heber bundled up, 
hitched up his sleigh, picked up Brigham Young, and drove a mile through 
the snow to his friend's white clapboard home to hear the Mormon. 
There, in a lamp-lit parlor with pine knots blazing in the fireplace, he 
heard the characteristically simple, short, and direct message of early 
Mormon missionaries. Gifford rose and told with earnest, simple convic- 
tion of the new Prophet, the new faith. He related "that a holy angel had 
been commissioned from the heavens, who had committed the Everlasting 
Gospel and restored the Holy Priesthood unto men as at the beginning. " 
Perhaps he quoted a Bible passage now popular among Mormons, "And I 
saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel 
to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every kindred, and 
tongue, and people" (Revelation 14:6). Mormons generally believe that 
the visit of the Angel Moroni to Joseph Smith in connection with the Book 
of Mormon fulfilled this prophecy. 

How much Gifford knew or told of Joseph Smith's r8?.o vision in the 
numinous grove is not known, but he surely related how Joseph received, 
translated, and published the Book of Mormon in 1829 and organized the 
church in 1830. 22 Heber noted that he also "called upon all men every- 
where to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and receive the 
gift of the Holy Ghost; and these things should follow those that believe, 
viz., they should cast out evils in the name of Jesus, they would speak in 
tongues, etc. and the reasons why the Lord had restored these things was 
because the people had transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and 
broken the Everlasting Covenant." 2 ' The accent was on the reopening of 
the heavens, the calling of a new prophet to dwell among the people to 
reveal anew the mind and will of God as in biblical days. 

One sermon was enough for Heber. "As soon as 1 heard them," he 
said, "1 was convinced that they taught the truth, and 1 was constrained to 
believe their testimony. I saw that I had only received a part of the ordi- 
nances under the Baptist Church. 1 also saw and heard the gifts of the 
spirit manifested in them, for I heard them speak and interpret and also 
sing in tongues which tended to strengthen my faith more and more. Brig- 
ham Young and myself were constrained, by the Spirit, to bear testimony 
of the truth, and when we did this, the power of God rested upon us. ,,J 

Up to that time, like his father before him, Heber had not been drawn 
to organized religion. Although he later claimed that at the age of nine he 
had lain on his bed and in a "vision saw those things that I have since 
passed through," 25 and that from the age of twelve he "had had many se- 
rious thoughts and strong desires to obtain a knowledge of salvation," lh 


he does not appear to have done much serious searching. He had not been 
conventionally pious and had shown little interest in any of the standard 
recognized creeds such as the Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, or Bap- 
tist (even though he formally became one), nor does he appear to have 
been influenced by the Unitarians, Universalists, revivalists, restoration- 
ists, or communalist groups of his time and place, or by Christian Prim- 
itivism, which looked for the restoration of the original and simple church 
of the New Testament. 

He does not fit the pattern of so many early converts to Mormonism 
in that he was neither seeking the principles of salvation from the Bible, 
nor some sort of restoration of a purer type of Christianity, nor the fellow- 
ship of the Saints. Furthermore he had not been moving from church to 
church, from faith to faith, as had many early Mormon converts. There is, 
in fact, no evidence that he had ever read the Bible. Had he been ques- 
tioned on the matter of belief he probably would have admitted to a form 
of deism, believing in a God, an afterlife with rewards and punishments, 
and the necessity of leading a moral life. 

In keeping with his simple nature, Heber's conversion was quick and 
uncomplicated. He accepted the message of the Restoration without an- 
guished seeking or diligent study. The opportune and decisive moment 
came and he acted. His accounts of several spiritual experiences at that 
time read matter-of-factly with little mysticism or pentecostalism. His 
subsequent involvement with heavenly visitors, evil spirits, spiritual gifts, 
and prophecies he accepted as a matter of course. Once he embraced Mor- 
monism his relaxed attitude toward religion and religious activity changed 
quickly to an intense, lifelong, and wholehearted devotion to the Restora- 
tion. Such devotion, typical of many Mormons then and now, is some- 
times explained as "putting the church first," or, perhaps more accurately, 
as "being a Mormon first and whatever else second." 

A partial explanation of Heber's change of attitude toward religion 
may be that the message of the Mormon missionary revived his memory of 
his childhood vision and intentions. When he learned from Gifford that 
Joseph Smith had received the records of the Book of Mormon from Mo- 
roni on the same day in 1827 that the "great smoky bow" appeared in the 
J heavens, he may have considered it a "sign." The practicality of Mormon- 
ism, the accent on doing good and being "anxiously engaged in a good 
cause" rather than on ritual, contemplation, or sacrament, also may have 
appealed to Heber, who was by nature practical and active, not reflective. 
He may also have been favorably impressed with the practice of a lay 
priesthood in which he himself could participate. 

Heber and Brigham soon had another spiritual experience. They were 

On the Potter's Wheel 19 

gathering some wood for Brigham's brother Phineas and "pondering upon 
those things which had been told us by the Elders" when "the glory of 
God shone upon us, and we saw the gathering of the Saints to Zion, and 
the glory that would rest upon them; and many more things connected 
with that great event, such as the sufferings and persecutions. . . ." 27 

Heber was so spiritually excited that during January, 1832, in spite of 
snow-choked roads and ice-filled rivers and streams, he took his horse and 
sleigh and, accompanied by Brigham and Phineas and their wives, traveled 
to the nearest branch of the church to learn more about it. This was at 
Columbia (now Columbia Crossroads), Bradford County, Pennsylvania, 
about 130 miles to the south, near where Gifford and his friends had come 
from. (Vilate, perhaps because of ill health or a lack of interest, did not 
go.) They stayed in Pennsylvania about six days, attended the Mormons' 
meetings, heard them speak in tongues, interpret, and prophesy. Heber 
was fully converted. For some reason, however, none of them was baptized 
in Columbia. Perhaps they wished to let Gifford perform the ordinance. 
Heber may have also wanted to wait until Vilate had sufficient faith to join 

When Gifford and his newly baptized friends returned to Mendon the 
following April, he immediately sought out Heber, who was throwing at 
his wheel. At the mention of baptism, Gifford received a typical response 
from Heber. "I jumped up," Heber recalled, "pulled off my apron, washed 
my hands and started with him with my sleeves rolled up to my shoulders, 
and went the distance of one mile where he baptized me in a small stream 
in the woods. After 1 was baptized, 1 kneeled down and he laid his hands 
upon my head and confirmed me as a member of the Church of Jesus 
Christ. . . ." 28 Although Heber did not consider himself worthy, on April 
16 Gifford ordained him an Elder on the spot. Vilate, somewhat more cau- 
tious, was not baptized immediately and Heber "mourned for her as one 
would mourn for the dead." 29 She had not enjoyed the spiritual experi- 
ences he had, and it was not until two weeks afterward that she was 

[Soon the Mendon branch numbered about thirty, including ten 
Youngs, two Kimballs, the John P. Greene family, and even the owner of 
Tomlinson's Inn, where Samuel Smith sold the first Book of Mormon in 
Mendon, and seems to have been led by Brigham Young's older brother 
Heber's spiritual experiences were heightened after baptism and the 
receipt of the Holy Ghost. He felt, as did the disciples of old, that he was 
on fire. "The people called me crazy," he claimed. "I continued in this way 
as though my flesh would consume away; at the same time the Scriptures 


were unfolded to my mind in such a wonderful manner it appeared to me, 
at times, as if I had formerly been familiar with them. 1 ' 30 

A contemporary heard both Heber and Brigham preach, but seems to 
have confused their identities. "Brigham," he recorded, "was quite fervent, 
and spoke with much feeling and effect. He was regarded as stronger in 
heart than in head. His faith and piety were counted of more force than his 
intellect. Heber C. Kimball, on the other hand, was respected as a man of 
much more mental power, but not of the great devotion in comparison 
with this associate Young." This account would ring much more true if the 
names were reversed. 11 

Other members of the little Mendon branch appeared to have been 
enthusiastic. A Palmyra newspaper, the Wayne Sentinel, noted on April 
1 8, 1832: "A Rochester paper mentions that Mormonism has 'taken root' 
in a certain church in the town of Mendon, Monroe County. The preacher 
says he shall never die, but be translated, after the manner of Enoch, and 
that in eighteen months Mormonism will be the prevailing religion; and 
that in five years, the wicked are to be swept from the earth." u 

In some ways Heber fits the emerging profile of early Mormon con- 
verts. It appears that most of them were poor farmers or artisans, had little 
formal education, and were largely religiously alienated. As the owner of a 
successful pottery, however, Heber was moving up economically from ar- 
tisan into the more affluent middle class. 

Shortly after baptism, Heber was called as a missionary by Joseph 
Young. It was common in the early church to ordain new male converts as 
Elders and send them on short missions to preach what little they had 
learned. That summer of 1832 Heber and Brigham and Joseph Young la- 
bored in nearby Genesee, Avon, and Lyonstown, where they baptized sev- 
eral and built up small congregations. This first missionary experience set 
the pattern of his life for the next twelve years as he fulfilled a total of eight 

Heber also visited nearby Palmyra. It was too late, of course, to meet 
any of the Smiths or other church leaders, who had already left that com- 
munity for Missouri and Ohio. He simply wanted to see the area, par- 
ticularly Hill Cumorah, where the plates which formed the basis for the 
Book of Mormon were believed to have been found. Deeply regretting not 
having taken the occasion or trouble to visit Joseph Smith previously, 
Heber made his pilgrimage to Kirtland, Ohio. 

As soon as Heber arrived back in Mendon, he began to arrange his 
affairs in order to move his family to Kirtland. The following spring, for 
example, he sold two lots for $475 and by the fall was ready to go. At that 
time, however, some of his neighbors issued attachments against his 

On the Potter's Wheel 21 

goods, although he was not indebted to any of them. The unseemly haste 
with which Heber and Vilate deserted the Baptist Church (after one ser- 
vice) and embraced Mormonism may have offended some and instigated 
the litigation." It may also reflect the widespread religious intolerance 
of that time and place. Apparently these attachments were settled out of 
court, for no records of the case have been found/ 4 Finally in October all 
was ready and Heber and family, accompanied by Brigham Young and his 
two daughters left. (After Young's wife Miriam Works died of tuberculosis 
September 8, 1832, he and his two young daughters, Elizabeth and Vilate 
[named after Hebcr's wife] had moved in with the Kimballs and lived with 
them part of the time.) Sending their belongings ahead by Erie Canal boats 
and Lake Erie steamers, the families went by wagon to join several other 
members of the Young family and Vilate's father and stepmother, who had 
already left for Kirtland. 

Although neither Heber, Vilate, nor any of their children ever re- 
turned to the Mendon-Victor area to live and although Vilate's brother 
William and his family were the only members of either the Kimball or 
Murray families ever to follow them into the waters of baptism, fairly 
close family ties were maintained for decades. Letters were exchanged and 
Heber usually passed through Mendon and Victor to and from several 
missions in the East. Once or twice Vilate returned to Victor to visit her 
people. Later, when some of their sons went on missions in the 1840s and 
1 860s, they looked up uncles, aunts, and cousins. 

As he drove westward, Heber stopped on a small rise and looked back 
at Mendon set in a frame of fall color. He was leaving behind his settled, 
comfortable, and obscure existence to throw in his lot with God's new 
Prophet. The first thirty-one years of his life had been formative. Had he 
not accepted Joseph Smith and the Restoration, he most likely would have 
stayed in Mendon, built up a major pottery business, become active once 
more in Masonry when it was safe to do so, and remained a nominal mem- 
ber of the local Baptist church. Part of the dedication he gave Mormonism 
he might have given Masonry, perhaps rising to a position of Grand Mas- 
ter. Outside of brief references in a history of New York Masonry and in a 
note on economic developments in some history of Ontario County, he 
would be totally unknown today. 

1. Court of Common Pleas Records, Ontario County Courthouse, Canan- 
daigua, N.Y. These records do not state the nature of the litigation, although it 
appears that all concern debts — misdemeanors, not felonies. 


2. Deseret News, "Synopsis," Mar. 31, 1858. 

3. The name is pronounced Va-late. She was the daughter of Roswell and 
Susanna Fitch Murray, the youngest of five children. Her siblings were Roswell 
Gould, William Ellis, Brewster, and Lucretia. Her paternal grandparents, Ezra and 
Hanna Gould Murray, had moved from Connecticut to Florida, Montgomery 
County, New York, around 1770. From there Vilate's parents had moved to Victor 
town in 1810. 

4. He suggested as much in Utah once to Fitz Hugh Ludlow. In the Heart of 
the Continent . . . with an Examination of the Mormon Principle (1870; reprinted 
New York: AMA Press, 1971), 343-44. 

5. Helen Mar Whitney, "Life Incidents," Woman's Exponent, vol. 9 (Mar. 
15, 188 1), 154. Hereafter cited as H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent. 

6. Monroe deeds, 27:144, 24:435, and 26:325. The quarter-acre lot was 
probably purchased from his brother Charles, for it was part of the tract bought 
by Charles in 1818. 

7. Day Book of M.E. Sheldon, Mendon, New York, i 831, Wil ford C. Wood 
Museum, Bountiful, Utah. 1 would like to thank LaMar Berrett for drawing this 
day book to my attention. 

8. Milnor Lodge Records, vol. 66, Archives of the Grand Lodge F. &: A. M., 
State of New York. It appears that none of the other thirty-nine members ever 
joined the Mendon Mormons. Heber recorded that he became a Mason in 1823, 
but this is apparently an error on his part or the printer's. 

9. Daniel Peterson, "Heavenly Signs and Aerial Combat," Sunstone, vol. 4 
(Mar-Apr., 1979), 27-32. Heber's account is taken from O. F. Whitney, The Life 
of Heber C. Kimball, 15-17. 

10. The Director of the Local History Division of the Rochester Public Li- 
brary and the Monroe County Historian were unable to locate any contemporary 
account of this event. 

11. Charles's wife, Judith, died June 20, 1824; Heber's mother died Feb. 25, 
1825; his father died July 8, 1825; his brother Charles died June 16, 1830. The 
date of death of Vilate's mother is presently unknown. Heber's parents, Charles, 
Judith, and their two children are buried in the Tomlinson Corners Cemetery in 
Mendon, which still exists. 

12. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 14 (Dec. 1, 1885), 98. 

13. Orson F. Whitney, The Life of Heber C. Kimball, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: 
Stevens & Wallace, 1945), l8 - F' rst published in 1888. Weaver was the pastor of 
this church (organized in Dec, 1809) from Jan., 1823, through Apr., 1833. See 
"An Historical Sketch of the Baptist Church in Mendon, Monroe Co., N.Y.," Min- 
utes of the }jth Anniversary of the Monroe Baptist Association (Rochester, 1864), 
17-19. Since the Youngs were Methodists, it is surprising that the Kimballs did 
not join them. Apparently the Baptists were more active than others in prosely- 

The Neiv York Baptist Register of Utica was searched unsuccessfully for the 
period May, 1832-Dec, 1833, for further reference to Mormons in the Mendon 

On the Potter's Wheel 23 

14. Deseret News, "Synopsis," Mar. 31, 1858. 

15. Ludlow, The Heart of the Continent, 343-44. 

16. It was Fanny who named Helen Mar after a heroine in a Scotch ballad. In 
1832 Fanny became the second wife of Vilatc's father, Roswell Murray. After the 
death of her husband, Fanny went to Utah with her brother, Brigham Young, and 
lived with his other wives in the Lion House. 

17. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94b, 4, Church Archives. In the Church Archives 
are five items known as the Heber C. Kimball Journals. During the years 1 worked 
on this biography the numbering of these journals has changed. Following is a list 
of the old and new numbers with the time periods (sometimes overlapping) cov- 
ered by each journal: Journal 90 (now 1), 1837-47; Journal 91 (now 2), 1840—45; 
Journal 92 (now 3), 1844-45; Journal 94 (now 4), Apr. 5-Oct. 30, 1847; Journal 
93 (would now be 5, but it is restricted as it is largely a record of Nauvoo Temple 
work), Nov. 21, 1 84 5 -Jan. 7, 1846. 

There are also two items which formerly were designated as Journal 94B and 
Journal 94c, which are now catalogued as the Heber C. Kimball Autobiography, 
1838-48, n.d., two vols., dictated and in the handwriting of various church 
clerks. None of these last two items is in Heber's hand and much of the first five 
journals are also in other hands, including those of William Clayton, Peter O. 
Hansen, and Horace K. Whitney. 

1 8. "Remarks by Heber C. Kimball, 1 ' Aug. 1, 1859, recorded by George D. 
Watt, Winslow Whitney Smith Papers, Church Archives. 

/i9?*Some students consider that the critical copy is the one Samuel sold to 
Mrs. J. P. Greene of Mendon, sister to Brigham Young. Young left two conflicting 
accounts of which copy he read. In the Millennial Star (vol. 25, p. 1 24), he says it 
was Phineas's copy; in the Utah Genealogical Magazine (vol. 1 1, p. 109), he says it 
was the Greene copy. 

20. From the original title page of the Book of Mormon. 

21. The line separating the towns of Mendon and Victor ran between the 
homes of Phineas and Heber, so that although Phineas lived in Victor, he was still 
in the general area of the other Youngs and the Kimballs. 

The chronology of this period is difficult and confused. Reading the man- 
uscript versions of the Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young biographical 
sketches which were printed in the Deseret News during 1858 in Salt Lake City 
suggests that there may have been an earlier visit by these same Elders to Mendon 
that spring. But it seems apparent that this was the first time Heber had heard the 
Elders. Gifford's son noted that his father, Alpheus, was baptized in 1830 and soon 
after went to Kirtland with his unbaptized brother and friends, returned home, 
and finally went to Jackson County, Missouri, in 1831. Samuel K. Gifford Journal, 
1, Church Archives. 

22. The official organization took place Apr. 6, 1830, in Fayette, Seneca 
County, New York. At first it was known simply as the Church of Jesus Christ. In 
1838 the words "of Latter-day Saints" were added as a parallel to what might be 
called the "Early-day Saints" of the New Testament. "Mormons" is a nickname 
derived from the Book of Mormon. The term "Saints" is used in the New Testa- 


ment sense of believers (i Cor. i : z) and not in the manner of beatified persons. 
Mormons consider the Restoration to have been literal, not some sort of "mystic 
union with the body of Christ." 

23. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94, 3, Church Archives. 

24. Deseret News, "Synopsis," Mar. 31, 1858. 

25. Sermon by H. C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London: Lat- 
ter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-86; reprinted 1967), vol. 12 (Apr. 12, 1868), 
190. The date in parentheses following each entry is the date on which the individ- 
ual speech was given. This collection of discourses of early Mormon leaders is a 
sort of Mormon Patrology. 

26. Deseret News, "Synopsis," Mar. 31, 1858. 

27. Ibid. 

28. Ibid., Apr. 7, 1858. The stream, Trout Creek, ran through Brigham 
Young's property. 

29. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 10 (Oct. 15, 1881), 74. 

30. Deseret News, "Synopsis," Apr. 7, 1858. 

31. Hyram K. Stimson, From the Stagecoach to the Pulpit (St. Louis, Mo.: 
R. A. Campbell, 1874), 9 2 > as cne ^ by Richard F. Palmer, "Brigham Young and 
the Mendon Branch," paper read at the Mormon History Association Annual 
Meeting, Canandaigua, N.Y., May, 1980. 

32. As cited in ibid. 

33. According to the "Historical Sketch of the Baptist Church in Mendon," 
in 1833, 1834, and 1835 the church experienced severe trials, and "they were un- 
der the painful necessity of excluding several of the members for imbibing the 
heresy Mormonism." 

34. One writer has opined quite incorrectly that leaving Mendon was all that 
saved Heber from debtor's prison. Stanley B. Hirshson, The Lion of the Lord: A 
Biography of Brigham Young (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969), 11. 




'Thou shalt be great in winning souls 

for me, for this is thy gift and calling." 

Revelation to Heber C. Kimball 

Far West, Missouri 

Apr. 6, 1839 


Ohio and the Call to Preach 

It was bitter cold when Heber arrived in Kirtland, and his first concern was 
to acquire proper shelter. He first settled his family in a house belonging to 
Elijah Smith near the East Branch of the frozen Chagrin River. 1 As soon as 
possible, Brigham Young, out of gratitude for all Heber had done for him, 
as well as to provide a continued home for his own motherless children, 
built Heber a home (perhaps on the same section of land), and spent most 
of the winter with the Kimballs until he married Mary Ann Angell several 
months later. 

In Ohio, Heber hoped to find a permanent home among those of his 
faith, but this was not to be. In 1833 Kirtland, nestled in gently rolling 
hills along the Chagrin River, near Lake Erie, and about twenty miles 
northeast of Cleveland, was a small trading and milling center with a pop- 
ulation of perhaps 1,300. Mormon missionaries had been there as early as 
1830 and had found it to be a fertile field for proselytizing. Consequently, 
as a result of an 1831 revelation, the Prophet advised his converts in New 
York and Pennsylvania to sell their properties and follow him to Ohio. 
(This is known as Section 39 of the Doctrine and Covenants, a published 
volume of Joseph Smith's revelations.) 

Although the Mormons attracted the greatest attention in the area, 
they never did predominate numerically. When Heber arrived, there were 
probably less than 200 Saints in the Kirtland area. And the troubles which 
portended the eventual abandonment of Kirtland by the Mormons had al- 
ready started. Early in 1832 in nearby Hiram, Joseph, for example, had 
been tarred, feathered, and nearly emasculated by a mob (at the last mo- 
ment the doctor backed out). The sources of Mormon difficulties in Ohio 
were both internal and external. Too many inexperienced members devel- 
oped strange spiritual ideas and claimed unusual manifestations leading to 
what Joseph himself decried as "false spirits." Some even claimed that 



they, not Joseph, were the real prophet. There was also fear and distrust of 
what some Ohio newspapers called a "vile imposture" and "Joe Smith's 
bible speculation." Some husbands were angered that their wives left them 
to join the Mormons, and many old settlers organized to prevent the con- 
version of their neighbors to the "Mormon delusion." To this end many 
false reports about the church were published, especially by apostates and 
disgruntled ministers who had lost their congregations. 

According to Heber's daughter Helen, the Kirtland area devised a 
unique form of anti-Mormonism — grave-robbing. In nearby Willoughby 
was the Willoughby Medical College, newly founded in 1834. It was 
widely believed among the Kirtland Mormons that their graves were con- 
sidered violable by medical students seeking cadavers. One family which 
suffered several deaths got into the habit at night of covering the graves 
with a wooden bier to which was secured the end of a heavy length of 
rope. The other end was tied to the father's arm to warn him of ghouls. 2 
Later the medical school was forcibly closed in 1847 by the citizens of 
Willoughby, who suspected it of grave-robbing. 

In spite of these difficulties, the Saints tried to live peaceably in the 
Kirtland area until the general exodus from there to western Missouri 
(where some Mormons were already settling in Jackson County) during 
the winter of 1837—38. 

Heber was to have relatively little to do with either Ohio or Missouri 
developments, for he spent much of the time between 1833 and 1837 on 
various proselytizing missions. Of a total of fifty-six months in Kirtland, 
he was away for twenty-four — nearly half the time. 

After his family was settled as comfortably as circumstances would 
permit, Heber threw himself wholeheartedly into the heady experience of 
Kingdom-building. While in Kirtland he participated in Zion's Camp (see 
pp. 29 — 33), worked on the temple, was chosen as one of the original 
Twelve Apostles, attended the Hebrew school, took part in the temple ded- 
ication, and invested in the ill-fated Kirtland Safety Society banking ven- 
ture. In the center of things, in the direct force-field of Joseph Smith's per- 
sonality, he donated freely to the building of the schoolhouse, the printing 
office, and especially the temple, to which he gave $200, a sizeable amount 
when the average day's wage was less than a dollar. It appears that, ini- 
tially at least, Heber was economically well off in Kirtland. 

It is not entirely clear, however, how Heber supported himself there; 
arriving in November, he could hardly have begun farming. Initially he 
probably lived off the money he brought from Mendon. He did some work 
as a potter and may have planted some crops the following spring, but 

Ohio and the Call to Preach 29 

Mormon difficulties in Missouri, which caused him to go there in May, 
did not permit him to tend whatever he may have sown. 

He also helped as a stonemason to build the temple — no ordinary 
task. Anti-Mormon feelings had created a situation much like that which 
faced Nehemiah when he tried to rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. "We had 
to guard night after night, 1 ' Heber remembered, "and for weeks we were 
not permitted to take off our clothes, and were obliged to lay with our 
firelocks in our arms to preserve brother Joseph's life"-' and thus prevent 
the destruction of the temple. 

The same missionaries who had visited Kirtland in 1830 also pros- 
elytized in western Missouri, where they organized a small branch in Inde- 
pendence, Jackson County. In June, 1 83 1, despite the very recent establish- 
ment of the church in the Kirtland area, Joseph received what the Mormon 
faith holds to be a revelation, now recorded as Doctrine and Covenants, 
Section 52, that Missouri was a "consecrated" land. Joseph immediately 
left for Missouri, where during July he received still another revelation 
(Doctrine and Covenants, Section 57), that Missouri, not Ohio, was to be 
the New Zion, the gathering place. Since Joseph continued to live in Kirt- 
land until January, 1838, however, there were two centers of the church 
for nearly seven years — closely connected administratively, but separated 
physically by nearly 900 miles. 

For a variety of social, economic, and political reasons the Mormons 
were less popular in western Missouri than in Ohio. The rough, pro-slav- 
ery frontier elements — most of the original settlers in Missouri were 
southerners — did not care for the influx of a new, industrious, clannish, 
anti-slavery people, generally from New England, especially if they also 
espoused a strange religion, gave the impression that the surrounding land 
belonged to them as their Zion, and were numerous enough to dominate 
politics and form a powerful economic bloc. The old settlers were also 
greatly concerned over the Mormon interest in the Indians and suspected 
and feared some sort of an alliance. In short the old settlers feared that 
their "behavorial boundaries" were threatened. By spring of 1834 the 
Mormons in Missouri, driven from Jackson County by militia and mobs, 
were in exile across the Missouri River to the north in Clay County. 

As a result of this expulsion Joseph Smith received a revelation on 
February 24, 1834 (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 103), commanding 
him to redeem his Missouri brethren and to reinstate them on their plun- 
dered land. Consequently Joseph, expecting some help from Missouri 
state officials, gathered as many of the faithful as he could to form what 
came to be known as Zion*s Camp. The small army originally consisted of 


about ioo men, but by the time they reached Missouri it had swelled to 
205, including eleven women and seven children. Heber signed up and 
gave into the general fund all the money he had, and took along a span of 
good horses and a wagon. Probably because of his previous military train- 
ing, he was appointed captain of the third company of thirteen men. 

That April as Heber started down the Chardon Road and watched the 
temple on the hill disappear behind trees just leafing out, he might have 
wondered if he would ever return, for, as he later recorded, the camp was 
"threatened both in that country and in Missouri by our enemies, that 
they would destroy us and exterminate us from the land." 4 

Their route lay generally westward, across more than 900 miles of the 
rolling, open prairie of the central lowlands covered with bluestem prairie 
grass, over deep-banked streams and rivers, and through oak, hickory, 
beech, and maple groves and forests. It was not a much shorter trek than 
the famous one to present-day Utah in 1847. From Kirtland they pro- 
ceeded southwest through Wooster, Springfield, and Dayton, Ohio; straight 
west via Richmond, Indianapolis, and Clinton, Indiana; farther west by 
way of Paris, Springfield, and Atlas, Illinois; and finally through Loui- 
siana, Keytesville, and Richmond, Missouri. They traveled generally on 
good roads. Across much of Indiana, for example, from the Ohio state line 
to near Greencastle, they were on the famous National Road (later U.S. 
40) — the superhighway of its day — which extended from Cumberland, 
Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois. 

Various small groups rendezvoused on May 6 at New Portage (now 
Barberton, near Akron) about fifty miles from Kirtland, where there was a 
branch of the church. By that time the camp consisted of more than 130 
men accompanied by twenty baggage wagons. The full camp started out 
from there May 8. Most of the twenty-five-day journey was over the flat, 
undifferentiated plains. Starting out each morning with prayer at 4:00 
a.m., they averaged between thirty-five and forty miles a day. 

The march was generally uneventful until they left Indiana. On June 
3, while camped on the west bank of the Illinois River in Pike County, Il- 
linois, Heber and a few others accompanied Joseph Smith to a mound on 
top of the high river bluffs. "On the top of this mount," Heber noted, 
"there was the appearance of three altars, which had been built of stone, 
one above another, according to the ancient order; and the ground was 
strewn over with human bones. This caused in us very peculiar feelings, to 
see the bones of our fellow creatures scattered in this manner, who had 
been slain in ages past." They felt prompted to dig into the mound, and tk at 

Ohio and the Call to Preach 3 1 

about one foot deep we discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, 
and between two of his ribs we found an Indian arrow, which had evi- 
dently been the cause of his death." Heber inquired about the identity of 
the skeleton, and recorded Joseph's response: "It was made known to 
Joseph that he had been an officer who fell in battle, in the last destruction 
among the Lamanites, and his name was Zelph. ,,s The location of this in- 
cident appears to have been what is now called the Naples-Russell Mound 
#8, about one mile south of present-day Valley City, Illinois, in a typical 
prehistoric Middle Woodland mortuary complex of the Hopewell culture. 

A few days later Zion's camp crossed the Mississippi at Louisiana, 
Missouri, an established outfitting and jumping-off place for the West. Im- 
mediately east of Paris, Missouri, was a small Mormon community called 
the Salt River settlement. Here on June 8 Joseph's company met his 
brother Hyrum's company, which had come from Michigan. Combined, 
the small army now numbered 205 individuals and twenty-five baggage 

They proceeded across the glacial plains and on through a wilderness 
area to just inside Clay County, where they camped between the two main 
branches of the Fishing River just west of present-day Excelsior Springs. 
The weather was fine and pleasant. There on the evening of June 19 oc- 
curred what was as close to a battle as Zion's Camp was to experience. 
"Just as we halted," Heber recorded, "and were making preparations for 
the night, five men rode into the camp, and told us we should see hell be- 
fore morning, and such horrible oaths as came from their lips, I never 
heard before. They told us that sixty men were coming from Clay County, 
to assist in our destruction. These men were armed with guns, and the 
whole country was in a rage against us, and nothing but the power of God 
could save us." 

These five men knew that Zion's Camp had inadvertently stopped in a 
natural trap, the breakdown of several wagons having prevented them 
from selecting a better and safer campsite. This choice of the first campsite 
in Clay County cannot otherwise be reconciled with the many facts and 
rumors Joseph had received concerning the intentions of Jackson County 
mobs to destroy them and the lack of will on the part of Missouri officials 
to render the Mormons justice. The two main branches of the Fishing River 
meander through a wide floodplain affording no cover and little elevation. 
The camp was caught in the open surrounded by steep-banked, deep- 
channeled rivers on three sides. A small band of Missouri "Pukes," let alone 
a projected force of over 300 men, easily could have pinned down the Mor- 
mons encumbered with women and children. The camp was trapped. 


"Soon after these men left us," Heber continued, 

we discovered a small black cloud rising in the west; and not more 
than twenty minutes passed away before it began to rain and hail, but 
we had very little of the hail in our camp. All around us the hail was 
heavy; some of the hailstones, or rather lumps of ice, were as large as 
hens' eggs. The thunders rolled with awful majesty, and the red light- 
ning flashed through the horizon, making it so light that I could see to 
pick a pin almost any time throughout the night; the earth quaked 
and trembled, and there being no cessation it seemed as though the 
Almighty had issued forth his mandate of vengeance. The wind was 
so terrible that many of our tents were blown over and we were not 
able to hold them; but there being an old [Baptist] meeting house 
close at hand, many of us fled there to secure ourselves from the 
storm. Many trees were blown down and others twisted and wrung 
like a withe. 

The storm altered the situation. As the rain-swelled rivers rose, they 
changed from trenches trapping the Saints into protective moats barring 
the mob's attack. "The hail fell so heavy upon them [the mob]," Heber 
continued, "that it beat holes in their hats, and in some instances even 
broke the stocks off their guns; their horses being frightened fled leaving 
the riders on the ground, their powder was wet and it was evident the Al- 
mighty fought in our defense. This night the river raised forty feet." 

Thus the camp was delivered. The men moved on and camped near 
the mouth of Rush Creek east of Liberty. There, on June 22, Joseph called 
his men together and reported he had received a revelation to "wait for a 
little season for the redemption of Zion. . . . For behold, I [God] do not 
require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion; even so will 1 fulfill, I will 
fight your battles." Joseph then discharged them. Before the Mormons 
moved on, however, thirteen men and a woman, Betsy Parrish, had died 
from cholera. Heber, who was stricken but recovered, considered this as 
God's punishment for the disobedience of some members of the camp. It 
was the Mormons' first encounter with this dread scourge, which had 
started in India in 1826, reached the New World in 1832, and followed 
waterways to the West. Many Mormon graves were dug along the western 
trails because of cholera. 

By almost all criteria Zion's Camp was a total failure. Zion had not 
been redeemed, at least fourteen members had died, and a great amount of 
time and treasure had been expended. The venture does not seem quite so 
foolhardy, though, when it is noted that Joseph believed that the governor 
of Missouri would support their efforts and lend them the assistance of the 

Ohio and the Call to Preach 33 

state militia when they arrived. At the critical moment the governor failed 
to comply with his earlier assurances. But it was a constructive failure. 
Out of the 191 survivors of Zion's Camp came most of the men who later 
formed the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and most of the sub- 
sequent leaders of the church for many years. And the march itself pro- 
vided important field training for the great exodus to the West which lay 
ahead. Perhaps there were psychological benefits too. All concerned could 
feel unburdened of the task of rebuilding Zion in Jackson County; they 
could turn to the future. In any event, Heber and others must have been 
cheered when Joseph told them of a revelation (Doctrine and Covenants, 
Section 105) which explained, to some extent, the real meaning of the ven- 
ture: "1 [the Lord] have heard their prayers, and will accept their offering; 
and it is expedient in me that they should be brought thus far for a trial of 
their faith." 

On June 30, Heber and several companions started the uneventful re- 
turn trip to Kirtland, arriving on July 26, about three months after they 
left. Heber remained in Kirtland a year before being called away again on 
a mission. During this year he established a pottery and registered for a 
six-week term in a grammar school under the supervision of Sidney Rig- 
don and William E. McLellin to try to fill in the gaps in his formal educa- 
tion. He does not seem to have gained much from this experience, but it 
demonstrated his desire to improve his education. Of such efforts his 
grandson later wrote, "Heber's progress, however, was only moderate, t 
Grammar, as a study, afforded him little delight. The mysteries of syntaxj 
seemed to elude his mental grasp . . . the technicalities of his mother 
tongue . . . seemed to baffle him." 6 Fortunately Heber's lack of knowledge 
of analytic grammar did not impair his native ability to speak and write 

Early in 1835, shortly after the school term ended, two important 
events took place: the publishing of Joseph Smith's revelations and the or- 
ganization of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Early converts had had 
little opportunity to read about the church and its doctrines. Many had 
never seen the Book of Mormon, and most of Joseph's revelations had not 
been printed. (Only eighteen had appeared in full or in part in the Mis- 
souri-based Mormon monthly The Evening and Morning Star, of very 
limited circulation.) In 1833 the editors of this paper in Independence, Mis- 
souri, attempted to publish, as the Book of Commandments, the sixty-five 
revelations Joseph had received through 183 1, but mob violence prevented 
them from doing so. The more peaceful atmosphere in Kirtland enabled 


102 of these revelations to appear in 1835 in book form as the Doctrine 
and Covenants. 7 

Heber surely noticed that the book was basically a handbook of the 
Restoration, a collection of unconnected and disparate revelations to 
Joseph Smith, and, through Joseph, to other individuals and to the church 
at large, presented in no systematic way whatsoever, most coming as a re- 
sult of Joseph's petitions to God for information. Certainly the revelations 
imparted a sense of urgency. Many were warnings that the Lord would 
come quickly; many were references to the importance of taking the Res- 
toration to the whole world, which heightened Heber's missionary zeal. 

Most of the information is practical, with theology tucked away here 
and there, almost as an afterthought. Perhaps that is why formal theology 
plays such a small role in Mormon thought and life. These bits and pieces 
of theology, however, are fascinating, "radical and fundamental," "Pela- 
gianism in a Puritan religion," as one student has put it.* The most basic 
theological difference between Mormons and other Christians is the Mor- 
mon claim to continuous revelation directly from God through a living 
prophet who reveals the mind and will of God to mankind. 

In these revelations Heber and subsequent Mormons read of the three 
degrees of glory in the next life, the purpose of mortal life, and the Word 
of Wisdom (a health principle). They learn that man cannot be saved in 
ignorance, that the glory of God is intelligence, that Satan cannot tempt 
children, that God's earth will become the heaven of the righteous after 
the resurrection, that all things are spiritual, that good works are neces- 
sary to salvation, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are of one 
mind, spirit, and work, but not of body, that the Holy Ghost is a male 
personage of spirit, and many details about the millennium. 

The revelations also made clear that evil is a positive good in human 
experience and advancement, that "it must needs be that the devil should 
tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves," 
and that Jehovah (not Elohim or God the Father) and the pre-mortal 
Christ are one and the same being. 

From the teaching that "Man was also in the beginning with God," 
that intelligence or the light of truth was not created or made, Heber might 
have come to the realization (as later and more sophisticated thinkers did) 
that man's essence is self-existent, that God is neither the totality of being 
nor the creator of all being, that man is not totally God's creature, that 
there was no creation ex nihilo, that nothing may compromise the free- 
dom of will aided by the Light of Christ. 9 

At the same time the Doctrine and Covenants appeared, a major step 

Ohio and the Call to Preach 35 

in the evolution of the church organization was taken. The Quorum of the 
Twelve Apostles was finally formed. Instructions for such a quorum had 
been given to Joseph Smith by revelation, Doctrine and Covenants, Sec- 
tion 18, as early as June, 1829, even before the church was organized. The 
selection was to be made by the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mor- 
mon — Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris — and the 
candidates were to be recognized by their desires and works. 

By February, 1835, Joseph realized that it was time to effect the orga- 
nization of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Apparently the rigors of 
Zion's Camp had sufficiently tested and demonstrated the "desires and 
works" of the brethren. On Saturday, February 18, he called a general 
meeting especially for all who had been in Zion's Camp. Heber and Brig- 
ham, of course, were present. They heard Joseph explain the purpose of 
the meeting. Then they listened to Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and 
David Whitmer pray for guidance and receive a blessing from the hands of 
the First Presidency. It was a most solemn meeting. (These three men are 
known collectively in Mormon history as "The Three Witnesses" for hav- 
ing testified that they had seen the original plates from which the Book of 
Mormon had been translated by Joseph Smith.) Following a hymn, a one- 
hour intermission, full of speculation, no doubt, was called. 

Reassembling, another prayer was offered and Joseph instructed the 
Three Witnesses to proceed with the selection. It was so quiet Heber could 
hear his own heart beating. The first name called was that of Lyman E. 
Johnson. The second was that of Brigham Young. Heber saw Brigham 
start, but then he heard his own name. Only three were called that day. 
Rejoicing, they strode to the stand to receive their ordination blessings 
from the Three Witnesses. 

Heber was promised he would "receive visions, the ministration of 
angels, and hear their voices, and even come into the presence of God," 
that many millions would be converted by his instrumentality, that angels 
would waft him from place to place, that he would stand unto the coming 
of our Lord and be made acquainted with the day when Christ shall come, 
that he would be made perfect in faith, that the deaf would hear, the lame 
walk, the blind see, and that he would have boldness of speech before the 
nations and great power. 10 After such promises, even if Heber had won- 
dered how he could ever falter or betray the trust placed in him, his or- 
dination insured enduring steadfastness. 

On subsequent days, Orson Hyde, David W. Patten, Luke S. Johnson, 
William E. McLellin, John F. Boynton, William Smith, Parley P. Pratt, Or- 
son Pratt, and Thomas B. Marsh were likewise chosen and ordained. All 


save four (Patten, McLellin, Boynton, and Marsh) had participated in 
Zion's Camp and had therefore proved themselves, at that point, strong in 
the faith. Not many years would pass, however, before most of these men 
would suffer complete or temporary relapse. Only Heber and Brigham 
never lifted their hands or voices against the Prophet. 

After the Quorum had been organized, Oliver Cowdery instructed 
them in their duties in his "Charge to the Twelve," " which set the pattern 
for the rest of Heber's days. Cowdery warned them that they would need 
wisdom in a "ten-fold proportion to what you have ever had; you will 
have to combat all the prejudices of all nations." They were urged to let 
their ministry be first, to strive until they had "seen God face to face." 

In respect to seniority, Cowdery said that the ancient apostles had 
sought to be great, "but brethren, lest the seeds of discord be sown in this 
matter, understand . . . God does not love you better or more than others 
. . . you are as one. You are equal in bearing the keys of the kingdom to all 
nations." This may be why Heber seldom deferred to anyone other than 
Joseph Smith until he became a counselor to Brigham Young in 1847. 

After this signal honor of becoming an Apostle, a special witness for 
Christ, Heber changed little. He carried on much as before. The turning 
points in his life were his baptism and later when Young chose him as First 
Counselor in the First Presidency. 

Since the main point of forming the Quorum of the Twelve was to 
send them as special witnesses, the Apostles departed, on May 4, 1835, f° r 
the eastern United States and upper Canada, traveling two by two "with- 
out purse or scrip" (baggage). For five months Heber preached in New 
York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. While at Sackett's Harbor, 
New York, he received word from Vilate of the birth of a new son, Heber 
Parley. His joy produced a characteristic burst of humor. To his compan- 
ions he said, "I have three children and have not seen one of them." No 
one understood how this could be until he explained that the one he had 
not seen had just been born. 

Later he went to Mendon, his former home where he was harshly 
treated by a Baptist minister named Fulton, possibly of Heber's former 
congregation. He called the new Apostle a false prophet and rejected his 
testimony. Heber responded by stating that if he did not repent and be 
baptized he would be damned. This only angered Fulton. Afterward, in 
biblical fashion, Heber cleansed his feet in testimony against him. More of 
his experience in Mendon has not been recorded. Apparently Heber was a 
prophet without honor in his own country; he had no success in Mendon. 

Ohio and the Call to Preach 37 

He next went to his old home in Sheldon, Vermont, to preach to 
friends and relatives. Some believed, but would not submit to baptism. He 
was still a prophet without honor. From Sheldon he walked over fifty miles 
of lonely roads on blistered feet, crossing the Green Mountains to meet 
with others of the Twelve in St. Johnsbury, where several families accepted 
the message. Thence he traveled to the home of his mother in Plainfield, 
New Hampshire, where he found only opposition and reviling even among 
his own kin. After visiting the Saints in Boston, he participated in a con- 
ference on August z8 in Farmington, Maine. This conference was the for- 
mal end of the first mission of the Twelve, and at its conclusion the mis- 
sionaries returned separately to Kirtland. Heber reached home safely on 
September 25. 

The winter was much like the preceding one — Heber worked at his 
pottery and attended grammar school for five weeks. On March 27 and 
31, 1836, possibly the most important single event of the Kirtland period 
took place — the dedication of the temple. Erected by the volunteer efforts 
of a few hundred persons between 1832 and 1836, the temple was one of 
the most impressive buildings in northern Ohio. Constructed of native 
stone along New England lines, it was three stories high and measured 
fifty-five by sixty-five feet. The exterior walls sparkled because the sisters 
had sacrificed their china, which was ground up in the plaster. The first 
floor was for divine worship; the second was designated as a place for gen- 
eral instructions of those holding the Priesthood; the attic contained five 
small classrooms and offices. 

The consecration of the temple, considered by Mormons to have been 
the first House of the Lord since biblical days, brought to a head all the 
spiritual naivete, zeal, and excitement characteristic of the church in Kirt- 
land, and many spiritual experiences were reported. It was later affirmed 
by many who were present that a pillar of fire rested upon the steeple, that 
the sound of a great wind filled the building, that many spoke in tongues, 
prophesied, and had visions. Heavenly choirs were heard and angels ap- 
peared. Heber said he saw one: "He was a very tall personage, black eyes, 
white hair, and stoop shouldered; his garment was whole, extending to 
near his ankles; on his feet he had sandals. He was sent as a messenger to 
accept the dedication." 12 He also recorded seeing the resurrected apostle 
Peter, who "had on a neat woolen garment, nicely adjusted around the 
neck." 13 

Shortly after the dedication, Heber, along with other church leaders, 
received the ordinances of the washing of the feet and anointing with 
oil, and "witnessed many manifestations of the power of God." Thus was 


partially fulfilled the reference to endowments made during Cowdery's 
"Charge." Only partially, though, for the Kirtland temple was not a tem- 
ple in the sense that the Nauvoo and subsequent temples were and are. 
Heber, for example, could not receive his endowments (special gifts and 
blessings) in the full sense there. These became available only in the Nau- 
voo temple. The Kirtland temple was more of a holy meeting place. 

In May Heber inquired of Joseph Smith whether he should go on a 
mission to preach or go back to school. Told he could do either, and per- 
haps because he did not care much for school, he opted to go on yet an- 
other mission — alone. 

This third mission, lasting from June 10 through October 21, took 
him back to Buffalo, Sackett's Harbor, and Plattsburgh, New York, and to 
friends in Vermont. He preached where doors were open, and baptized 
those who believed. This was the usual procedure in those days — one or 
two sermons, baptize, and move on. 

In June, three miles from the village of Ogdensburg, New York, on 
the St. Lawrence River, he was driven by rain into the house of Heman 
Chapin. Learning of his mission, the Chapins called in their neighbors to 
hear him. Heber preached successfully and frequently for a week and bap- 
tized seven, some of whom spoke in tongues. 

One day a troubled husband asked him to visit his wife, who had been 
confined to her bed for five years and had been given up to die. Heber 
went. Taking a chair by her bed, he held her wasted hand and told her of 
the Restoration. He asked her if she believed and would accept baptism 
from his hands. She affirmed she did and would. Forthwith Heber had her 
husband carry her to the pond or dammed-up stream where he did his 
baptizing. Afterwards Heber fixed her with the "dark, piercing eyes" so 
many people commented on and rebuked her disease. "In less than one 
week," he recorded, "she was performing her usual household duties . . . 
to the astonishment of the people." H 

From Ogdensburg Heber crossed the Adirondacks and Lake Cham- 
plain to St. Albans, Vermont, thence to his place of birth, Sheldon, and 
elsewhere in Vermont. Apparently he again had no success with his friends 
or relatives, for his journals are silent on the subject. 

At least one group appreciated his efforts. In St. Albans he visited the 
family of Priscilla Whitney Martin. She was impressed, and in a letter to 
her father she describes something of Heber's day-to-day activities and 
how he was received by some. 

The man you requested to call on us was here the nth of July and I 
think he is a godly man. He appeared as such here. He went up to see 

Ohio and the Call to Preach 39 

Phebe and preached in Fayettsville [probably today's Newfane, Wind- 
ham, County] and was much liked by them all. Ben says it is the most 
reasonable preaching he ever heard. On his return from there, he 
came here again and I think he was penniless by his talk. I washed a 
little for him and lent [him a] little change for he told me that God 
would pay me four fold and left his blessing with me and prayed with 
us and finally, I felt myself more than payed when he left the house. 15 

After a not very successful five weeks in Vermont, Heber returned for 
a few days to the Chapins and those he had baptized in Ogdensburg and 
organized a branch of twenty. He owed this success to a marvelous feat of 
strength. One afternoon as Chapin was grinding his scythe and fixing his 
cradle to cut a field of wheat, Heber offered to help and offhandedly de- 
clared that he could rake and bind as fast as Chapin could cut. The sur- 
prised Chapin replied that no living man could do that. "Never mind, 
Brother Chapin, it's nearly as easy for me to do it as to say it," Heber an- 
nounced. His account continues: 

The next morning after the dew had passed off we went into the field, 
commencing at a piece of wheat which he said had three acres in it. 
Said 1, "go ahead, Brother Heman, we'll cut down this piece before 
dinner." About the time he took the last clip of the three acres I had it 
bound in a bundle before he had hardly a chance to look around, and 
about that time the horn blew to call us to dinner. We started back to 
his house, he never spoke or said one word to me, appearing rather 
confounded. The next Sabbath we had such a congregation of hearers 
as I had never seen in the United States; for priests and people had 
come for twenty-miles distance, to see and hear that Mormon who 
had performed a thing that had never before been done in that coun- 
try, for Brother Chapin had proclaimed this occurrence unknown to 
me. 16 

Afterward Heber left for Victor, where, by previous arrangement, he 
met Vilate. After visiting friends and relatives for a few days, they caught a 
Lake Erie steamer at Buffalo for the overnight trip home to Kirtland. 
Many of the passengers were Swiss going to their new homes in Cleveland, 
then a popular place for Swiss and German immigrants. While sunning 
himself on deck and hearing them talk for some time, the "Spirit of the 
Lord" came upon Heber. He joined the immigrants, introduced himself, 
and "was able to preach to them in their own tongue, they seemed much 
pleased and treated us kindly," he laconically noted. 17 The purpose of this 
incident is unclear. If anyone ever joined the Mormons because of this ex- 
perience, it has not been recorded and Heber never again referred to it. He 


was beginning to take such things for granted. Somewhat later Heber and 
Vilate caught sight of the lighthouse and pier of the Fairport Harbor and 
reached Kirtland on October 2. 

During the eight months between this mission and another one to En- 
gland the following June, we know little of Heber's activities, except for 
his involvement in the troubled Kirtland Safety Society banking venture. 
In 1836 Andrew Jackson abolished the National Bank, which he believed 
controlled the nation's money market too tightly. It then became both nec- 
essary and possible for state and private banks to provide money and 
credit. The Mormons understandably believed that if they had their own 
bank they could build up Kirtland faster, so they organized one that same 

The bank had difficulties from the beginning. The State of Ohio re- 
fused the Mormons a charter, and the bank was poorly underwritten. 
Heber, for example, subscribed to $50,000 worth of shares for only $15 in 
cash. In all, 200 church members subscribed to 79,420 shares, worth at 
face value approximately $3,854,000 at $50 par value, which was backed 
up with only $20,725 cash. 18 The bank, furthermore, was weakened by 
speculation, mismanagement, and dishonesty. The insecurity of the ven- 
ture was obvious. Joseph Smith warned all concerned, but his warnings 
went unheeded. The society slipped toward failure and was caught in the 
Panic of 1837 — an inflationary spiral brought on by too much paper 
money and credit. Hundreds of banks across the country, including the 
Kirtland Safety Society, suspended payment. 

The failure of the bank caused much bitterness in Kirtland. Joseph 
Smith received the blame and was called a fallen prophet by many, includ- 
ing five of the Twelve Apostles. According to Heber, scarcely twenty peo- 
ple still considered him a prophet of God. The strength of the six-year-old 
church was at nadir. It was facing dissolution. 

For Joseph to have marked time would have been fatal. If ever the 
young Prophet needed providential guidance, it was then. In answer to 
prayer, Joseph received inspiration to send Heber to open a mission in En- 
gland — more than 5,000 miles away. While this must have seemed a puz- 
zling response to financial disaster, England was socially and economically 
ready for a new religion, especially one for the common people. Several 
days later, early in June, Joseph found Heber in the temple precincts and 
whispered to him, "Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to 
me, 'Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my Gospel and 
open the door of salvation to that nation.'" 19 

Heber was overwhelmed. To him, England was a land "famed through- 

Ohio and the Call to Preach 41 

out Christendom for light, knowledge and piety, and as the nursery of re- 
ligion" and the English a "people whose intelligence is proverbial," 20 and 
he was well aware that others in the church were much more educated and 
cultured than he and consequently better suited to work in England. Al- 
though he was unaware of it then, his natural simplicity was to be far more 
effective in England than any amount of polish. 

Heber's original account of his call to England at age thirty-six is im- 
portant not only because we have the story in his own words, but because 
it is the beginning of his sporadic attempts to keep a journal. (See Appen- 
dix C for excerpts from this journal.) In his distinctive spelling he noted: 

June the 4-1837 Kirtland. The word of the Lord to me through 
Joseph the prophet that 1 should gow to England to open the dore of 
procklamation to that nation and to he[a]d the same; Likewise the 
same day Brother Joseph wanted we should meet at a confrance at 
Elder Rigdons. 1 met with them accordingly. . . . Joseph and Sidney 
[Rigdon] and Hiram [Smith] Lade there hans on my head and set me 
apart for this mission and dedicated me to the Lord. . . . The 2[nd] 
day we got together and I was mouth and we asked the Lord to carry 
us safely crost the great waters and to give us fare winds, and caus our 
journy to be spedy and to open the way before us when we should 
arrive on the chores [shores] of Europe. 21 

Heber wanted Brigham Young to be his companion. Joseph Smith, 
however, needed the dynamic Young to help with matters in troubled Kirt- 
land and gave Heber six other companions: Orson Hyde, a member of the 
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Willard Richards, a church member for 
only six months; Joseph Fielding, a native of Bedfordshire, England, who 
had emigrated to Canada in 1832; and three other Canadians, John Good- 
son, Isaac Russell, and John Snyder. Fielding's brother, an Independent 
(formerly Methodist) minister in Preston, England, to whom they had 
written about Mormonism, had invited Joseph Fielding to come and 
preach this new religion in his chapel. 

Heber made his preparations and in less than ten days was ready to 
go. He blessed his family, bade his friends farewell, and, in company with 
Hyde, Richards, and Fielding, started for New York City, where they ar- 
rived on June 22 and met Goodson, Russell, and Snyder. 

A few days later on June 27, the night before they sailed, Heber wrote 
Vilate a long letter detailing his trip to New York, their activities in that 
city, and their preparations for leaving. (See Appendix C for a photocopy 
of this earliest extant Kimball letter.) Heber related how wicked New York 
City was, how he had to sleep in a warehouse belonging to a member, and 
how he and his companions had spent two days distributing Hyde's mis- 


sionary broadside, Prophetic Warnings (the first definable Mormon tract). 
He asked Vilate to write to him often. "Tell me the Hole truth and nothing 
but the truth. Tell me how you guit [get] along how your health is and how 
you injoy your mind. Tell me how the children guit along ... let me know 
all about your temprel and spiritual concerns." 

In the letter he related his pleasure with the ship on which they 
booked passage: "We are going a bord of the Ship tomorrow; it is the 
largest packet ship that sales the Otion [ocean] ... it is the noblest things 
that I ever see. The name of it is cald the Garrick. . . ," 22 The Garrick 
berthed 927 tons, about 100 tons larger than most packets and merchant- 
men, had the long, flat floor of the New Orleans packets, and was very 
fast. She was one of the famous ships of the E. K. Collins Line, noted for 
its excellent service. Her hold was crammed with typical New World ex- 
ports to England: cotton for the Lancashire Mills and naval stores (wood, 
tar, and turpentine) for the Royal Dock Yards. 

Heber and friends, dodging the gigs, hacks, coaches, and omnibuses 
which filled the streets, walked down to Packet Row on the East River be- 
tween Martin's Lane and Wall Street, where they secured second cabin ac- 
commodations for $18 each. Although they provided all their own provi- 
sions and slept in buffalo robes on the floor, their quarters were superior 
to steerage. (First-class passage and board cost $150.) At 10:00 a.m. the 
Garrick weighed anchor and was towed down the East River by a steamer 
as far as Sandy Hook. There the captain from the quarterdeck gave orders 
to spread the great topsails, hoist the jibs, haul up the spanker and the 
staysails. Catching the wind, the Garrick loosed herself from the tug and 
sailed off into the Atlantic under her own power. 


1. This location is based on a study of the original Kirtland Platte Book, 
Church Archives, and several visits to Kirtland, Ohio. It is less than one mile 
northeast of the temple in the general area of today's Kirtland Ballpark, north of 
the Kirtland-Chardon Road. 

2. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 10 (June 1, 1881), 6. 

3. Deseret News, "Synopsis," Apr. 7, 1858. 

4. Much of what follows is taken from Heber's account of Zion's Camp pub- 
lished in the Titties and Seasons, Jan. 15, Feb. 1, Feb. 15, Mar. 15, and Apr. 15, 
1845. No contemporary Kimball journal exists for this period. The Times and Sea- 
sons's account appears to have come from his "Autobiography," which may have 
been dictated from no longer existing field notes. 

Ohio and the Call to Preach 43 

5. The terms "Lamanite" (and "Nephite") are Book of Mormon names refer- 
ring to some ancestors of the American Indians. 

6. Orson F. Whitney, The Life of Heber C. Kimball, 70. 

7. As the Book of Mormon reads like a first draft, so do many of these revela- 
tions. Certain infelicities of style (indefinite antecedents, tautologies, weak gram- 
mar, problems of person) strongly suggest that only ideas and not the actual word- 
ing of God's messages came to Joseph. We could say that Joseph received the word 
but not the words of God. 

8. See Sterling McMurrin, The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Re- 
ligion (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1965). 

9. To Mormons God is a perfect man who attained Godhood by obedience 
to eternal laws and principles. Mormons believe that "as man is God once was, 
and as God is man may become." See below, p. 272. 

10. B. H. Roberts, ed., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day 
Saints, by Joseph Smith, Jr., 2nd ed. rev., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News 
Press, 1957), vol. 2, 180-89. 

11. Ibid., vol. 6, 317. 

12. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 9 (Feb. 1, 1881), 130. 

13. Ibid. 

14. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94b, 36, Church Archives. 

15. Priscilla Whitney Martin to Samuel Whitney, Aug. 15, 1836, Lake 
County Historical Society, Mentor, Ohio. 

16. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94c, 45-46 of the section titled ''History of 
Heber Chase Kimball by his own dictation," Church Archives. 

17. Deseret News, "Synopsis," Apr. 14, 1858. 

18. Stock Ledger, Kirtland Safety Society, Chicago Historical Society, micro- 
film copy at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. 

19. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94b, 88, Church Archives. 

20. R. B. Thompson, ed., Journal of Heber C. Kimball (Nauvoo, 111.: Robin- 
son and Smith, 1840), 10. Hereafter cited as Journal of Heber C. Kimball. 

21. H. C. Kimball, Journal 90, 7-8, Church Archives. The only changes 
made in Kimball's holographs in this biography have been to end all sentences with 
a period, to begin all sentences with capitals, to capitalize all proper names, and to 
correct all obvious oversights. It should be noted, however, that most Kimball 
quotes taken from secondary sources have already been "modernized. " 

22. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, June 27, 1837, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 


The First Mormon in the Old World 

Out of sight of land for the first time in his life, Heber experienced the 
power and awful primordial majesty of the sea, the humbling and intim- 
idating encounter with endless water and sky. But eighteen days of salt air, 
spray, and relaxation must have provided a good change of pace, a salu- 
tary break in Heber's normal routine, and a time to prepare for his ap- 
pointed task in the Old World in that year of 1837. 

The most interesting part of the crossing was the daily excitement of 
the race between the Garrick and the South America, a speedy packet of 
the competitive Black Ball Line. Earlier that year, E. K. Collins had lost 
the first trans-Atlantic Ocean race on record. His Sheridan, on its maiden 
voyage, was beaten by two days by the Black Ball's Columbus. With his 
new Garrick Collins hoped to recapture his reputation for having the fast- 
est ships on the New York-Liverpool run. 

For this second match with the Black Ball Line, Collins wagered 
$10,000. Day after day Heber and companions stood at the rail and ob- 
served the race; they were up at daybreak on July 10, when it ended. "We 
arrived in the river Mersey, opposite Liverpool, " Heber remembered, 
"being eighteen days and eighteen hours from our departure from the an- 
chorage at New York. The packet ship South America, which left New 
York at the same time we did, came in a few lengths behind. . . . She had 
been seen during the voyage, but never passed us. The sight was very in- 
teresting to see these two vessels enter port with every inch of canvas 
spread." 1 Eighteen days and eighteen hours was a remarkably short run. 
The average time from New York to Liverpool was thirty-eight days, and 
for Collinses fast ships, thirty-one days. 

As they drew near Liverpool, Heber, braced by the sea, excited, and 
characteristically impatient to get to work, leaped ashore when the land- 
ing boat was still six or seven feet from the pier at Prince's Dock. The first 
Mormon had reached the Old World. 2 


First Mormon in the Old World 45 

For three days the impecunious missionaries lodged with a widow in 
Union Street, waiting for their trunks to clear customs. Then, "feeling led 
by the Spirit of the Lord," on Saturday, July 22, they took the noon coach 
from the Golden Lion Inn on Dale Street for the three-hour-and-ten- 
minute ride to Preston, Lancashire. 

The borough of Preston, located on the River Ribble about thirty 
miles north of Liverpool, was a grimy, crowded manufacturing commu- 
nity of some 45,000 inhabitants and was already 650 years old when the 
missionaries first arrived. The location was well chosen for the introduc- 
tion of a new faith. It had been a strong Protestant center since the days of 
Cromwell and was considered as tolerant as any place in England. There 
was also an important temperance movement centered there. In fact, Pres- 
ton was the birthplace of "teetotalism," an extreme form of temperance. 
(The expression derived from the declarations of Preston's reformed 
drunkards that they were "t-totally" against all alcoholic drinks — brewed, 
vinted, or distilled.) Furthermore, as already noted, Joseph Fielding's min- 
ister-brother had invited and was expecting the missionaries. All of this 
helps to explain why Preston, out of all of Britain, first heard of the 

When the missionaries arrived that sunny afternoon, a general elec- 
tion to Parliament was in progress, for Victoria had just ascended to the 
throne three days earlier. There was much excitement — music playing, 
flags flying, and thousands of men, women, and children parading the 
streets, decked in ribbons representative of their politics. Just as the mis- 
sionaries stepped from their coach, someone raised a banner proclaiming, 
"Truth will prevail. " So propitious and appropriate did this seem to Heber 
that he exclaimed, "Amen. So let it be."* 

They soon found lodging with a widow in St. Wilford Street. That 
same evening Joseph Fielding contacted his brother James, who invited the 
missionaries to his church, Vauxhall Chapel, on Vauxhall Road, the next 
day, which was Sunday. The Reverend Fielding and two other ministers 
had left the Methodist Church and were, to the best of their ability, trying 
to restore what they thought was primitive Christianity. Fielding, greatly 
excited by what his relatives had written from Canada, had led his con- 
gregation in prayer for this message to be brought to them. 4 At the close of 
morning services he suddenly announced that an "Elder of the Latter-day 
Saints" would preach there that afternoon. Heber was delighted, consider- 
ing such an opportunity an answer to prayer and one reason why they had 
felt inspired to commence their work there. 

At the appointed hour, Heber and his companions returned to the 
plain, two-storied brick chapel. Mounting the elevated pulpit, Heber saw 


pews full of people wondering what to expect from this Yankee. In flat 
New England tones he declared that an angel had visited the earth and 
recommitted the everlasting Gospel to man; called attention to the first 
principles of the Gospel — faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, bap- 
tism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for 
the gift of the Holy Ghost — and gave a brief history of the Restoration. 
This earliest known Heber C. Kimball sermon was much like the one he 
had heard preached by the Pennsylvania Elder. He never did become a ca- 
lamity howler. His was a simple, rational theology, with the accent on an 
angelic visitation, by which he meant the Restoration in general. What he 
said specifically is unknown. He may have told of the First Vision of 1820, 
or of the restoration of the Priesthood in 1829, but it is much more likely 
that, given the simple missionary presentation of that day, he referred only 
to the-1823— 27 appearances to Joseph Smith of the resurrected Moroni, 
the last of the Book of Mormon prophets, regarding the Book of Mormon. 

Heber's first opportunity to preach was followed quickly by two 
more — another one that same evening, and still another Wednesday night. 
The good fellowship of the Reverend Fielding melted, however, when 
some of his congregation left him and requested baptism at the hands of 
the missionaries. James Fielding closed his chapel to the missionaries and 
later complained, "Kimball bored the holes, Goodson drove the nails, and 
Hyde clinched them." 5 

The Elders lost a chapel but gained audiences in private houses, on 
street corners, especially before the obelisk in Market Square. Heber 
quickly discovered the basic ignorance, spiritual immaturity, subservience, 
and economic depression of most of his listeners. Only half the laboring 
class in England at that time were literate. 'They are quite ignorant," he 
confided to Vilate; "many of them cannot read a word and it needs great 
care to teach them the gospel so that they can understand; the people here 
are bound down under priestcraft in a manner 1 never saw before . . . they 
are in the same situation as the children of Israel were in Egypt." He 
added, 'it is as much as they can do to live, there is not more than one or 
two that could lodge us over night if they should try; and in fact, there are 
some that have not a bed to sleep on themselves; and this is the situation of 
most of the people in this place. . . ."* 

Heber and his companions turned such circumstances to their advan- 
tage. Their own limited education was not noted. They spoke on the level 
of their audience, acted as common men, wore no distinguishing garb, and 
did not teach for hire. It was, furthermore, easy for the Mormons to ex- 

First Mormon in the Old World 47 

tend the hand of fellowship and brotherhood, to make all feel equal before 
God. They could even offer their male converts the Priesthood itself 
(which to Mormons means the power to act for God on earth in matters 
pertaining to the church). No longer need their hearers defer to the lordly 
class of English clerics. 

Heber capitalized on his natural talents. He was simple, sincere, and 
personal. Although he often preached publicly, he sought individuals in 
their private homes, and most of his converts were made in more intimate 
gatherings rather than in open meetings. While no copy of his early ser- 
mons survives, Brigham Young did record that he would say to someone, 
"Come my friend, sit down; do not be in a hurry." Then he would begin to 
preach the Gospel in a plain, familiar manner, and "make his hearers be- 
lieve everything he said, and make them testify of its truth, whether they 
believed it or not, asking them 'Now you believe this? You see how plain 
the Gospel is? Come along, now,"' and he would lead them into the waters 
of baptism. He was popular. Sometimes people would stay with him all 
day and were often converted after one sermon. At the right moment, "he 
would put his arm around their necks, and say, 'Come let us go down to 
the water/" 7 When his own sons became missionaries, he urged them to 
preach short and simple sermons, directed by the spirit, and told them, 
"I said but little, but what 1 did say went straight to the hearts of the 
honest." 8 

Their message spread quickly and within the week they were prepar- 
ing to baptize nine converts on Sunday, July 30. Before conducting this 
first baptism, however, Heber experienced what he considered to be the 
hostility of Satan: 

One Saturday evening, I was appointed by the brethren to baptize a 
number the next morning in the River Ribble, which runs through 
that place. By this time, the adversary of souls began to rage, and he 
felt a determination to destroy us before we had fully established the 
gospel in that land; and the next morning 1 witnessed such a scene of 
satanic power and influence as 1 shall never forget while memory 
lasts. ... I was struck with great force by some invisible power and 
fell senseless on the floor as if 1 had been shot, and the first thing that I 
recollected was, that I was supported by Brothers Hyde and Russell, 
who were beseeching the throne of grace in my behalf. They then laid 
me on the bed, but my agony was so great, that I could not endure, 
and I was obliged to get out, and fell on my knees and began to pray. I 
then sat on the bed and could distinctly see the evil spirits, who 
foamed and gnashed their teeth upon us. We gazed upon them about 
an hour and a half, and I shall never forget the horror and malignity 


depicted on the countenance of these foul spirits, and any attempt to 
paint the scene which then presented itself, or portray the malice and 
enmity depicted in their countenances would be vain. 9 

In spite of the terrors of the night, the baptism occurred in the morn- 
ing, at ebb tide, in the River Ribble, which at Preston is estuarial. Thou- 
sands watched the event, which took place on the south side of present- 
day Avenham Park — tradition says near the Old Tram Bridge. George D. 
Watt, racing to the river, had the honor of being the first into the water, 
where Heber baptized him by immersion. George's mother, Mary Ann, 
was the first female baptized a Mormon in England. 

One of the three female converts hung back a little: Elizabeth Ann 
Walmsely, a consumptive and bedridden invalid who (like the invalid 
Heber had met in Ogdensburg, New York) had been given up to die by the 
doctors. Heber had previously promised her that if she would believe, re- 
pent, and be baptized, she would be healed. Heber called for her husband, 
Thomas, to carry her to him. Hesitant but believing, Elizabeth Ann came. 
A week later she was up and attending to her household duties. She lived 
to immigrate to Utah and died several decades later in Idaho. This first 
baptism opened a floodgate of converts. By 1 8 5 1 , in spite of heavy emigra- 
tion (over 7,800), there were more than 42,000 Saints and 642 congre- 
gations in England. 

Heber's two missions to England, in 1837—38 and 1839—41, were his 
greatest contributions to the growth of the early church. The success of the 
British mission counterbalanced the Ohio apostasy and the Missouri per- 
secution. The 4,700 converts who immigrated from England to Nauvoo by 
1846 strengthened the church during the Illinois period, and the more 
than 19,000 British converts who went to Utah between 1847 and 1856 
proved a necessary force in taming the desert and establishing a viable 
Kingdom in the Great Basin. Ironically during its formative years, the 
church drew most of its converts not from its native soil but from England 
and Europe, where, initially at least, the missionaries met less opposition 
and were accorded more respect. 

From Preston the missionaries spread to surrounding communities, 
where they preached in chapels, squares, inns, and tithe barns and bap- 
tized many. Soon Heber had organized branches of the church in Preston, 
Walker Fold, Longridge, and elsewhere in that area. The congregation in 
Preston was destined to become the oldest continuous unit of the Mormon 
faith worldwide. 

Heber and the other missionaries were so successful in making con- 
verts, especially among the "Aitkenites," that the Reverend Robert Aitken, 

First Mormon in the Old World 49 

a popular and independent Scottish clergyman, came from London to 
Preston to "expose" Mormonism and the Book of Mormon. He was not 
successful in stemming the tide, and within a week of his denunciation, a 
large number of his followers in Preston were baptized. 

Another Protestant denomination, Methodism, was also closely in- 
volved with Heber's British mission. The Reverend James Fielding of Pres- 
ton had been a Methodist, the Aitkenites appear to have been essentially 
Methodist, and some Methodist ministers in Preston disturbed Heber and 
caused him to secure a ministerial license. J. Livesey, a Methodist minister 
in Preston, also published in April, 1838, what appears to have been the 
first anti-Mormon tract in England. This publication was a reprint of the 
Reverend Richard Livesey 's An Exposure of Mormonism, Being a State- 
ment of Facts Relating to the Self-Styled "Latter Day Saints/' and the Ori- 
gin of the Book of Mormon, which was originally published in Winche- 
don, Massachusetts; the two men may have been related. 

At the time of Heber's two missions to England, a sect called the 
Primitive Methodists was strong. This group, founded in 18 10, had se- 
ceded from mainstream Methodism and laid great emphasis on camp- 
meeting evangelism, open-air preaching, and lay participation in religion 
and government. Most members of this faith were of the ill-used, under- 
privileged British working class, who rejected strongly the idea that re- 
ligion should not wrestle with the problems of the day. They wanted more 
from religion than instruction on how to prepare for the next life. Heber's 
simple message of good cheer, a Restoration, a new hope, a new beginning 
in a New World appealed to this group. 

From Heber's written description of his early converts and from the 
fact that many of them were Aitkenites, we do know that, for the most 
part, they were of the poor, uneducated working class, who, for various 
reasons, had left mainstream English Protestantism — seekers looking for 
an expression of personal religion that would satisfy their needs. 

The best study of the religious background of early Mormon converts 
in England concludes, "In the last analysis, it was the unsettled religious 
conditions in the 1840s that offer the key to understanding Mormon suc- 
cess. The strength of the movement lay in its ability to appeal to the dis- 
affected from the sectarian congregations, and to inculcate within them 
the desire to build the kingdom in the last days. Conversely, the major lim- 
itation of the movement appears to have been its inability to appeal to 
those outside the perimeter of Christian fundamentalism." 10 

In Heber's first letter home from England, he wrote that he was quite 
sick, but continued to preach and baptize, for "the work of the Lord is roll- 


ing on in this Land in great power. . . ." The combination of Lancashire's 
excessively damp climate and repeated exposure to the water during bap- 
tisms was hard on his health. "I want your prayers day and night," he 
wrote, "that 1 may be supported and upheld from the powers of the devil 
for he is trying to destroy me sole and body. . . ."" A further problem, 
though he did not mention it in any of his letters, was the trouble he and 
his companions initially had in understanding the warm, blurred, and 
clipped "Lanky" dialect. Such statements as "Lad, wi' thi' sit doon" and 
"Coom in Lad, there's more light wi' thi' within than wi' thi' in t' 'ole i' t' 
wall" (there's more light with thee within than with thee in the hole [door] 
in the wall) required a bit of getting used to. 12 

His sympathetic account of the misery, poverty, and unemployment 
of many Englishmen, occasioned by the Industrial Revolution, the eco- 
nomic depression of 1836, and bad weather, reads like a page from Dick- 
ens's terrible indictments of the common man's misery in England. Of this 
world of Oliver Twist Heber wrote: 

This was very extraordinary weather for that country, as I was in- 
formed that some winters they had scarcely any frost or snow, and the 
oldest inhabitants told me that they never experienced such a winter 
before. In consequence of the inclemency of the weather, several man- 
ufacturing establishments were shut up, and several thousands of 
men, women and children were thrown out of employment, whose 
sufferings during that time were severe; and I was credibly informed, 
and verily believe, that many perished from starvation. Such suffer- 
ings I never witnessed before. The scenes which I daily beheld were 
enough to chill the blood in my veins. The streets were crowded by 
men, women, and children who begged from the passengers as they 
walked along. Numbers of those poor, wretched beings were without 
shoes or stockings, and scarcely any covering to screen them from the 
inclemency of the weather; and daily I could discover delicate females 
walking the street gathering up the animal refuse, and carrying it to 
places where they could sell it for a penny or half-penny. And thus 
they lived through the winter. At the same time, there were hundreds 
and thousands living in wealth and splendor. I felt to exclaim, O 
Lord, how long shall these things exist! How long shall the rich op- 
press the poor, and have no more care or interest for them than the 
brutes of the field, nor half so much! When the Lord Jesus shall de- 
scend in the clouds of heaven, then the rod of [the] oppressor shall be 
broken. Hasten the time, O Lord, was frequently the language of my 
heart when I contemplated the scenes of wretchedness and woe which 
I daily witnessed. n 

First Mormon in the Old World 51 

The laissez-faire economic system of England at the time of Heber's 
first visit is sometimes described as predatory individualism. The govern- 
ment served as a passive policeman to protect life and property. It did not 
interfere with business, where the law of supply and demand ruled. Chil- 
dren of nine worked from fourteen to sixteen hours a day in the mills. Fe- 
males of ten hauled carts weighing up to 500 pounds all day long in the 
low and narrow lateral shafts of the coal mines. There were no public 
schools. Workhouses were designed to be as uncomfortable as possible to 
discourage idlers. 

Housing was often shocking. Whole families might live in one room; 
five might sleep in one bed. Many lived in fetid cellars reeking of intoler- 
able stench. "Necessaries" frequently drained directly into wells used for 
water supplies. Streets were unpaved, badly drained open sewers. Living 
conditions at work were not much better, and many sought surcease in 
gin. Saloons guaranteed that patrons would get drunk for a penny. Im- 
morality was rampant, ignorance and disease endemic, filth and squalor 

These abject circumstances were one reason why so many listened to 
and accepted the Restoration — it imparted some hope. This was especially 
true after 1840, when the church not only encouraged immigration to the 
Land of Promise, but rendered financial aid to that end. Heber was not so 
naive as to misunderstand much of their interest. Years later in Utah he 
said, "Bless you, if you had not been poor and oppressed and in the depths 
of poverty, you would not have heard us at all when we went to proclaim 
the Gospel." 14 

The climax of the mission effort in 1837 was a special Christmas con- 
ference held in Preston. About 300 members from branches thirty miles 
around were present, registering the success of the missionaries. On that 
day they confirmed fourteen members and blessed about 100 children. 
Since his arrival in July, Heber himself had preached in Walker Fold, Long- 
ridge, "Barshe Lees" (Bashall Eaves), Ribchester, Wrightington, Hunter's 
Hill, Eccleston, Penwortham, Thornley, Leyland Moss, Askin, Dauber's 
Lane, Exton, Chorley, Stoney Gate Lane, and Downham — all in Lan- 
cashire. Only once during this first mission did Heber ever leave Lan- 
cashire or travel far from the valley of the River Ribble. 

In some communities he healed those who believed, in others he felt 
led to certain homes. In Penwortham he met and converted William Clay- 
ton, who became a church leader in England and later a clerk and recorder 
to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. In Preston he met and taught Alex- 
ander Neibaur, the first Jew to become a Mormon. 


In Bashall Eaves two of Heber's converts, James and Nancy Knowles 
Smithies, had an infant daughter, Mary, their first child and also the first 
child born into the Mormon Church in Great Britain. The parents insisted 
on taking her to a church to be christened. In Mormon doctrine, infant 
baptism was contrary to the scriptures and the will of God, and Heber 
urged them against it. But they believed that if their daughter died she 
could not be buried in the churchyard. Their insistance caused Heber to 
utter the first of many prophecies for which he eventually became famous: 
"Brother and Sister Smithies, I say unto you in the name of Israel's God, 
she shall not die on this land, for she shall live until she becomes a mother 
in Israel." 15 Two weeks later Heber blessed the infant, who grew to wom- 
anhood, went to Utah, and in 1857 became the last plural wife of Heber 
himself, bearing him five children. 

In Chatburn, where he converted twenty-five his first evening, Heber 
had perhaps the most moving experience of that mission. As he took leave 
of the Saints there, he was touched by their grief at his departure. "While 
contemplating this scene," he wrote, "I was constrained to take off my hat, 
for I felt that the place was holy ground. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon 
me and I was constrained to bless that whole region of country." 16 

After the Christmas conference, Heber's main efforts were to organize 
the branches so that they could carry on by themselves after he and his 
companions left. He arranged to lease the Cock Pit in Preston, a hall 
which, as its name suggests, had been built originally for gaming but had 
not been used for that purpose since 1830. Subsequently it had been uti- 
lized as a school and a lyceum, and in 1837 was the official meeting hall of 
the Preston Temperance Society. Throughout the early days of the church 
in England the elders benefited much from the organized temperance 
movement. Since Mormons then generally abstained not only from alco- 
hol but even from tea and coffee, they were frequently welcomed to preach 
in temperance halls. Located in the heart of town and seating 800, the 
Cock Pit was an appropriate choice for the Mormons. (It no longer stands, 
although a plaque marks its site behind the parish church on Church 

The Mormon request of January 4, 1838, to lease the Cock Pit is 
probably the earliest document in the Old World referring specifically to 
the "Latter day Saints." 17 The second general conference in England, held 
April 8, 1838, in the Cock Pit, was another confirmation of their success. 
From 600 to 700 attended, representing twenty-six branches with a total 
membership of about i,300. 18 During this conference, twenty converts 
were baptized, 100 children were blessed, and much instruction was given, 
since Heber, along with Orson Hyde and Isaac Russell, was preparing to 

First Mormon in the Old World 53 

leave England. Joseph Fielding was sustained to preside in their absence, 
with Willard Richards and William Clayton as counselors. 

On April 9 the three elders left Preston for Liverpool, whence they 
sailed for home on April 20, again on the Garrick. For several days they 
experienced seasickness and a storm so strong that the bowsprit was bro- 
ken twice, the boom blown down, and the rigging much torn. For a few 
days the ship could spread only the jib sails. Thereafter the weather was 
calm. The missionaries again preached on the Sabbath, and Heber made 
himself much favored by assisting the ship's steward in treating a large but 
sick Durham cow — their only source of milk. Having been a farm boy, 
Heber quickly discovered that the cow could not raise her cud. He told the 
steward to cut a half-dozen slices of pork fat as large as his hand, which he 
gave to the cow. Heber knew that anything as foreign to a cow's stomach 
as pork fat would cause her to vomit and thereby resume her normal cud- 
chewing, but his real skill must have been in inducing OP Boss to swallow 
the meat in the first place. After the cow recovered, the steward sent the 
Elders turtle soup, wine, and other luxuries and presented them with 
many gifts. 

Another company wager had been made at Liverpool regarding 
whether the Black Ball's Neiv England or Collins's Garrick would arrive 
in port first. Although the New England kept four or five miles ahead of 
the Garrick, Heber assured his officers that their ship would go in first. 
And indeed, on May 1 2, near New York City, although neither of the ships 
was sailing at more than three knots, suddenly the wind left the sails of the 
Neiv England, and the Garrick ran in one hour ahead. 

The next day, Sunday, the missionaries met with the Saints in New 
York City and gave them an account of their work in England. On Mon- 
day they headed for Kirtland, arriving home on May 22, eleven months 
and nine days from the time they left. Heber's family was in good health 
and overjoyed to see him again. 

By the time Heber reached Kirtland, few Saints were left in that city. 
Over half of the original membership had left the church, and many of 
those who remained were weak in the faith. During his absence the finan- 
cial and spiritual trouble which had broken out in Kirtland before Heber 
had left on his mission had grown worse. The success of the dissidents, led 
by three former Apostles, John F. Boynton, Luke S. Johnson, and Lyman 
E. Johnson, can be gauged from the fact that during the winter of 1 837— 
38 they had taken possession of the temple and caused both Joseph Smith 
and Brigham Young, together with many others, to flee to Missouri. The 
faithful Heber unhesitatingly made ready to join his brethren. 



i. Journal of Heber C. Kimball, 15. 

2. Not only was Heber the first Mormon in Europe, he was the representa- 
tive of "the first significant denomination indigenous to America which sent mis- 
sionaries for systematic proselytizing work in Britain. . . ." Robert Lively, Jr., 
"Nineteenth Century British Saints in Context," paper read at the Mormon His- 
tory Association Annual Meeting, Canandaigua, N.Y., May, 1980. 

3. Deseret News, "Synopsis," Apr. 21, 1858. 

4. O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 124. 

5. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94c, 61, Church Archives. 

6. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Sept. 2, 1837, Elder's Journal of the 
Church of Latter-day Saints, vol. 1 (Oct., 1837), 5. 

7. Journal of Discourses, vol. 4 (Apr. 6, 1857), 305. 

8. H. C. Kimball to his sons David and Charles, Nov. 10, 1863, Millennial 
Star, vol. 26 (Feb. 6, 1864), 91—92; H. C. Kimball to his sons Brigham and Isaac, 
Dec. 7, 1866, ibid., vol. 29 (Jan. 26, 1867), 59-60. 

9. Deseret News, "Synopsis," Apr. 21, 1858. Years later in Utah he added 
some details to this experience. In 1856 he said, "I saw their hands, their eyes, and 
every feature of their faces, the hair on their heads, and their ears, in short they 
had fullformed bodies." Journal of Discourses, vol. 3 (Mar. 2, 1856), 229. A much 
disputed tradition places this house at today's 21 St. Wilford Street. This account, 
as related to Vilate, was originally featured and published in the first issue of the 
Elders' Journal, Oct., 1837, Kirtland, Ohio, and is the first of many subsequent 
Kimball letters and reports published in various church organs. 

10. Malcolm R. Thorp, "The Religious Backgrounds of Mormon Converts 
in Britain, 1837-52," Journal of Mormon History, vol. 4 (1977), 51-65. 

11. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Nov. 12, 1837, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

12. See Claire Noall, Intimate Disciple: A Portrait of Willard Richards (Salt 
Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1957). 

13. O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 189-90. 

14. Journal of Discourses, vol. 9 (Feb. 9, 1862), 374. 

15. H. C. Kimball, Journal, Oct. 7, 1837, Church Archives. 

16. Ibid. Joseph Smith later said that he had indeed been on "holy ground," 
that some of the ancient prophets had traveled in that region and dedicated the 
land, and that Heber had reaped the benefit of their blessing. O. F. Whitney, Life 
of Heber C. Kimball, 187-88. 

17. Quarter Sessions Preston, Jan., 1838, no. 303, Lancashire Records Of- 
fice, Preston, England. 

18. Richard L. Evans, A Century of Mormonism in Great Britain (Salt Lake 
City: Deseret News Press, 1937), 244. There were 1,517 baptisms for the period 
1837-39. Whitney credited Heber alone with 1,500 converts, but this is too gener- 
ous a figure. 


Unknown in Missouri 

By late June or early July, 1838, Heber had left Kirtland for Missouri with 
his family and about forty of the faithful. They went by wagon about 
ninety miles south to Wellsville, where they took Ohio, Mississippi, and 
Missouri riverboats to Cairo, Illinois, and to St. Louis and Lexington, 
Missouri, making the last thirty miles by wagon to the town of Far West, 
which was located on a high, rather flat, and fertile prairie. En route they 
found some "western" (actually southern) ways strange — money called 
"bits," "toting" pails on the head, and, above all, the concept of slavery. 

Much had happened in Missouri since Heber had been there in 1834 
with Zion's Camp. Following their expulsion from Jackson County, Mis- 
souri, in 1833, the Mormons had resided for a while in Clay County. 
Eventually, however, the citizens of that county, hoping to avoid diffi- 
culties, peaceably and regretfully asked the Mormons to leave. During the 
summer of 1836, therefore, the Saints moved into the uninhabited north- 
ern part of adjacent Ray County, which was then organized into a new 
county named Caldwell. There, during two years of general peace, the 
Mormons built several settlements, the most important of which were Far 
West, the county seat and new church headquarters, and Haun's Mill on 
Shoal Creek. Elsewhere in northern Missouri, the Mormons laid out new 
towns: Adam-ondi-Ahman on the Grand River, Gallatin, and Millport 
in Daviess County, and De Witt on the Missouri in Carroll County. By 
the summer of 1838 there were at least 15,000 Mormons in northern 

The Kimballs were to find in Missouri, however, not only increased 
intolerance and frontier violence, brutality, and bigotry, but something 
worse — the dehumanizing practice of slavery. Slaves had been introduced 
into Missouri in the early eighteenth century by the French to work lead 
mines along the Mississippi, and after the Missouri Compromise of 1821, 
admitting Maine as a free state and Missouri as slave, slavery spread to all 



counties. By 1838 there were approximately 58,000 slaves in the state, 
concentrated along the Missouri River, where the large-scale growing of 
hemp was economical. (By i860, Jackson and Clay counties, for example, 
were 21 and }6 percent black respectively.) Elsewhere in Missouri, most 
slaves were common fieldhands working small farms. 

The slaveholding mentality of many western Missourians would af- 
fect the Mormons there in several ways. Their Yankee attitudes regarding 
slavery were unappreciated, and the Missouri men, accustomed to rigidly, 
if not mercilessly, enforcing the savage slave code, were not attuned to 
dealing gently with disliked Whites. By the time of Heber's arrival on the 
Missouri frontier, mobs had already destroyed a Mormon press, store, 
blacksmithy, and at least ten homes. They had whipped several men, 
tarred and feathered two, jailed some, crippled one, and killed one; they 
had harassed scores of women and children; and, finally, had driven about 
1,200 Mormons from Jackson County. And worse lay ahead. 

By the time Heber came to Far West that July, 1838, it had more than 
5,000 inhabitants, 150 houses, 2 hotels, and at least 14 business establish- 
ments — and many must have been living in wagons and tents. Heber had a 
happy reunion with the Prophet Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and oth- 
ers, and temporarily moved in with the David Patten family. The church 
gave him a building lot and timber for a home, and a friend gave him forty 
acres of land — presumably for a farm. How Heber supported himself and 
his family in Missouri is not recorded; his own efforts were probably sup- 
plemented from general church funds. 

His first official act was to give the Saints an account of the British 
mission, which he did in the rude log church on the first Sunday after his 
arrival. Soon afterward, as a member of a small group which accompanied 
Joseph to the little settlement of Adam-ondi-Ahman, about twenty-five 
miles north of Far West, he was party to an unusual experience. On a hill 
overlooking the Grand River, Joseph showed his followers the ruins of 
three stone altars and revealed to them that according to Mormon belief 
this was the place where Adam had offered up sacrifice after he was cast 
from the Garden of Eden, and was the site to which Adam would someday 
return. Joseph even specified that the Garden of Eden had been in Jackson 
County. (According to Joseph, Adam-ondi-Ahman, from the primeval or 
"Adamic" tongue, means "the place of God where Adam dwelt.") Heber 
was impressed, but not amazed. He was getting used to such startling an- 
nouncements by the new Prophet. Heber's account of this experience as 
recorded in his dictated "Autobiography" is unique and has been picked 
up by others many times. 

JJnknoivn in Missouri 57 

After his re-entry into the Mormon community, Heber tried to ar- 
range for his own housing. From the Pattens' the Kimballs moved to a 
storehouse on the main square and finally into a log cabin, which Heber 
intended to use as a cowshed after building a proper home. Caring for a 
family in an eight-by-eleven-foot cabin was probably trying, especially 
when the walls were only four feet high. It was possible to stand up 
straight only in the center of the room, and one of the roof poles ran di- 
rectly over the Kimballs' bed. "One morning, 1 ' Heber remembered, "Mrs. 
Kimball was making up the bed; she raised up her head suddenly and hit a 
sharp knot in the pole, she exclaimed 'dam it,' which was thought a very 
rough word; still we never think of it without a laugh, although it hurt 
severely." 1 One can only admire her remarkable restraint under such cir- 
cumstances. And the long-suffering Vilate would have to live in more hum- 
ble places than this before she would be comfortably housed again. 

Whatever hopes Heber had of re-establishing a happy, normal home 
life were quickly marred by illness and mob activity. "I arrived there [Mis- 
souri]," he recorded, "in time to be sick three weeks and then the mob 
prevailed and [we] were driven out." 2 New troubles started over an elec- 
tion fracas in Gallatin, Daviess County, on August 6. When the Mormons 
tried to vote they were opposed and violence ensued. Mormons did not 
gladly suffer injustice or court martyrdom. They appealed, usually in vain, 
to whatever laws and law officials existed. Almost every time they fought 
fire with fire, however, they worsened the situation; Joseph and Joseph's 
God counseled forbearance. But this conflict signaled the end of the seven- 
year experience in Missouri. From August 6 until November 1 there was 
continued agitation, alarm, and permanent crisis. Although neither Heber 
nor his family were to suffer much personally in Missouri, he was to ob- 
serve firsthand the results of mob arrests, murder, beatings, burnings, rape, 
and general destruction in Daviess, Ray, Carroll, and Caldwell counties. 

Following the Gallatin affair, Missouri mobs and militia threatened 
other Mormon settlements in northern Missouri, including Adam-ondi- 
Ahman and Millport, where homes and haystacks were burned. The chief 
encounter between the Mormons and the Missourians, the Battle of 
Crooked River in Caldwell County, was fought October 25, 1838. The 
Mormons, under the command of an Apostle, Captain David W. Patten, 
set out to observe the movements of some Missouri troops and try to res- 
cue some prisoners taken by the militia. When the Mormons were sighted 
they were fired upon and a battle ensued, during which several Mormons, 
including Patten, were mortally wounded. 

When Heber, who was not in the battle, learned of Patten's condition, 
he rushed to his side and remained with him until he succumbed several 


hours later. Patten had received a ball in the bowels and died slowly, suf- 
fering excruciating pain. Heber recorded his death: "While the shades of 
time were lowering, and eternity with all its realities were opening to his 
view, he bore a strong testimony to the truth of the work of the Lord, and 
the religion he had espoused." 3 

The Battle of Crooked River precipitated Governor Lilburn W. Boggs's 
"extermination order" of October 27. "The Mormons must be treated as 
enemies," Boggs insisted, "and must be exterminated or driven from the 
state if necessary for the public peace — their outrages are beyond all de- 
scription." 4 This order led directly to the October 30 massacre of seven- 
teen Mormons at the Haun's Mill settlement on the banks of Shoal Creek, 
and the attack on Far West. 

Anticipating the attack, Joseph Smith appointed Heber Kimball and 
Brigham Young captains of fifty men each. They immediately devised 
some temporary fortifications by pulling down some of their houses. Since 
the Kimball dwelling was on the outskirts, Heber sent Vilate and their 
children to the heart of the city to seek safety with the widow of David 
Patten. Vilate found Phoebe Ann Patten pushed beyond fear, outrage, 
shock, emotion itself. Instead of taking flight or dissolving into hysteria, 
she had marshaled her psychological strengths and achieved emotional in- 
sulation, almost detachment. Around her waist was a belt containing her 
dead husband's large bowie knife. On the fire was a kettle of boiling water 
and in her hand a tin dipper with which to throw it. "She did not seem in 
the least excited," Heber's daughter Helen later remembered. "Her coun- 
tenance was perfectly calm and she shed no tears, the fountains seemed to 
have dried up and she only thought of avenging the blood of her husband." s 

The community was soon surrounded, and further resistance ap- 
peared futile. Joseph Smith surrendered. Bloodshed was avoided, but the 
Prophet and a few other leaders were taken prisoner. As a leading Apostle, 
Heber expected to be included among the prisoners, but he discovered that 
he was so little known in Missouri that even some members of the church 
did not know he was at Far West. The same was true of Brigham Young. 
But the Mormons were disarmed and forced to sign over their property to 
pay the state for military costs, and there was some pillaging and rape. 
Vilate and Helen, however, were untouched — though Heber could have, 
and probably would have, torn asunder any man who tried. 

At this terrible time, a former Apostle and a teacher of Heber's, 
William McLellin, who was with the anti-Mormon camp at Far West, un- 
ashamedly accosted Heber. "What do you think of Joseph the fallen 
Prophet now?" he said sarcastically. "Has he not led you blindfolded long 

Unknown in Missouri 59 

enough; look and see yourself, poor, your family stripped and robbed and 
your brethren in the same fix, are you satisfied with Joseph?" Infuriated, 
Heber called McLellin a traitor. "I tell you Mormonism is true," he con- 
tinued, "and Joseph is a true prophet of the living God, and you with all 
others who turn therefrom will be damned and go to hell and Judas will 
rule over you." 6 Surprisingly, after this rebuke McLellin made no effort to 
hurt or harass Heber or his family. 

After the surrender of Far West, Joseph and the other prisoner-hos- 
tages were taken first to Richmond for a kangaroo court and then sent to 
jail at Liberty, and preparations for a general exodus from Missouri com- 
menced. The fleeing Saints had little choice but to go east to Illinois, to put 
the Mississippi River between them and Missouri and to seek asylum. To 
the west was Indian territory — off limits to Whites. To the north was 
Iowa, a territory only since 1838, largely uninhabited, and possessed of no 
frontier to protect Mormons from Missourians, and wild Arkansas was 
far to the south. As many Saints as possible went by water from Lex- 
ington, via St. Louis, to Quincy, Illinois, the largest town on the upper 
Mississippi. Others went overland to the ferries at Quincy and Louisiana, 
Missouri. At Louisiana they crossed into Pike County, Illinois, settling 
temporarily in Atlas and just east of Pittsfield in a place still known as 
Mormon Town. A few fled to Lee County, Iowa. 

Heber elected to remain in Far West as long as possible, visiting the 
prisoners as often as he was permitted, working for their freedom, assist- 
ing the Saints in leaving Missouri, and helping generally with church af- 
fairs. Before Emma Smith fled, she left a change of clothing with Heber for 
Joseph and asked him to keep her husband in clean clothing as best he 
could. 7 

From the Liberty jail on January 16, 1839, Joseph Smith addressed a 
letter to "Brothers H. C. Kimball and B. Young," saying that he did not 
want them to leave Missouri until he was out of jail, and that while he was 
in jail "the management of the affairs of the Church devolves on you, that 
is the twelve" (an important point that Brigham Young would refer to later 
when others claimed the mantle of the martyred prophet). 8 In a final 
postscript he wrote, "Appoint the oldest of those of the twelve who were 
first appointed to be the President of your Quorum." 9 Joseph may have 
put Heber's name first in this letter for alphabetical reasons, or because he 
may have thought the balding Heber was older than Brigham, or simply 
because Heber visited him in prison. In any event, Joseph did not name the 
president of the Quorum, remember who was the oldest member, or single 
out Young for special leadership. But because Brigham Young was thirteen 


days older than Heber, and because the senior Apostle Lyman E. Johnson 
had left the church, Young did become the president of the Quorum of the 
Twelve and the Prophet's successor as president of the church. 

This simple act of re-establishing the line of authority (essential in 
Mormonism) appears to have enabled those church leaders out of prison 
to take some positive action. A few days later, on January 26, at a public 
meeting in Far West, several men, including Heber and Brigham, were ap- 
pointed to draft a program for the safe removal of the Saints from Mis- 
souri. Three days later a seven-man Committee on Removal was selected 
to oversee the departure of the 12,000 to 15,000 Saints, especially the 
poor, from Missouri to Illinois. Although not members of the committee, 
Heber and Brigham appear to have been the principal leaders of the Saints 
at Far West. A little more than two weeks later, Brigham Young himself 
fled Missouri with his family to escape the excesses of the mob. Along 
with them went Heber's wife and three children. And thereafter, for a sea- 
son, general leadership fell on Heber, who, because he was still relatively 
unknown, was left unmolested by the anti-Mormons. 

The situation of the Mormons at this point was a sorry one. The 
Prophet, along with Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Parley Pratt, and 
Ebenezer Robinson, was in prison; David Patten was dead; Luke and 
Lyman Johnson, John Boynton, Thomas Marsh, and William McLellin 
had apostatized; Orson Hyde and William Smith "were suspended from 
exercising the functions of their office"; Orson Pratt was wavering; and 
Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, two of the Three Witnesses, had al- 
ready left the church. 

In the midst of all these troubles, on March 12 Heber was able to 
write an encouraging letter to Joseph Fielding and other church leaders in 
Preston, England. 10 He urged them to visit the branches of the church, ex- 
horted them to be faithful, and assured them that he would be returning to 
England the following summer. He reported that most of the members, 
including his family, had left Missouri and that the leaders were in prison. 
And his incredible faith and optimism shone through, in spite of all he had 
experienced since returning from England, when he wrote: "I can truly say 
that I have never seen the Church in a better state since 1 have been a mem- 
ber of it. What there is left, they are firm and steadfast full of love and 
good works and have lost all that they have and now are ready to go out to 
preach the gospel to a dying world." 

In his efforts to arrange release of the prisoners, Heber left on March 
25 to present a petition to the supreme court at Jefferson City. The judges 

Unknown in Missouri 61 

acknowledged that the imprisonment was illegal, but refused to interfere. 
Heber dejectedly returned to the ironically named Liberty jail to report 
to Joseph Smith. Climbing the outside stairs, passing through the iron- 
studded door set in four-foot-thick walls, Heber entered the upper level, a 
bare, dirty, dark, and cramped fourteen-foot-squarc cell. The dungeon, 
where the prisoners were sometimes confined, was much worse. 

Here Joseph and four companions had been penned up for over four 
cold months. The Prophet was so discouraged he asked Heber to pray for 
them. They knelt. But Heber had barely started when the prison guard 
roughly forbade him to continue. Such pettiness reduced both Joseph and 
Heber to tears. 11 

On April 4, Heber visited Judge Austin A. King in Richmond, who 
was greatly enraged that his illegal papers had been presented to the su- 
preme court. The prisoners remained in jail. Heber's efforts, however, may 
have indirectly freed Joseph, for about ten days later the prisoners received 
a change of venue to Boone County for trial. En route they were allowed 
to escape into Illinois, arriving in Quincy a week later. Since the Mormons 
were in full flight, these few prisoners were no longer important to Mis- 
souri officials. So intense was hatred of the Mormons that some anti-Mor- 
mons took a frightful revenge on William Bowman, the law officer who 
had Joseph Smith in custody at the time of his escape: he was ridden to 
death on a bar of iron, a lamentable fate for a man who had helped the 

Heber's work, however, was not quite done. There were still some im- 
poverished Saints left in Missouri. Although unrecognized in October, 
1838, by April, 1839, he had become well enough known so that to avoid 
mob harassment he was obliged to conceal himself during the day and op- 
erate at night. On April 18 he felt impelled to warn the Committee on Re- 
moval to settle their affairs and leave immediately. That same day, a mob 
tried to run him down in the streets of Far West and then sacked the town. 
Laughing like madmen, they broke clocks, chairs, windows, mirrors, and 
destroyed thousands of dollars worth of property. One member of the 
mob, finding no convenient place to fasten his horse, shot a cow and, to 
Hcber's horror, "while the poor animal was struggling in death, he cut a 
strip of her hide from her nose to her tail to which he fastened his halter." 12 

For his Continued and unquestioning fidelity during these terrible 
times, Heber was rewarded with a personal revelation on the ninth anni- 
versary of the organization of the church. He told how the Spirit came and 
ordered him to write the words which came to his mind. 1 * He sat down 
and, writing on a knee, recorded: 


Far West, April 6, 1839 

Verily, Verily, I say unto my servant Heber thou art my son in 
whom I am well pleased. . . . Thy name is written in heaven no more 
to be blotted out forever. . . . Thou shalt have many sons and daugh- 
ters ... for thy seed shall be a numerous as the sands upon the sea 
shore. ... I will go with you and be your right hand. . . . Trouble not 
thyself about thy family for they are in my hands. ... If thou wilt 
be faithful and go preach my gospel . . . thy tongue shall be unloosed 
to such a degree that has not entered into thy heart as yet and the 
children of men shall believe in thy words and flock to the water 
. . . thou shalt be great in winning souls for me for this is thy gift and 
calling " 14 

Heber's favor with God was confirmed; oratorical and proselytizing suc- 
cess was assured; and polygamy was presaged. 

The Mormon experience in Missouri was ending. All that remained 
was for the Twelve to dedicate symbolically a temple site in Far West and 
then to depart for missions to the world. The specified date for this was 
April 26, 1839 (in accordance with Section 18 of the Doctrine and Cove- 
nants). Accordingly, Heber remained in Missouri until he was joined by 
members of the Council of Twelve and a few others who returned from 
Illinois for this purpose. On the pleasant moonlit night of April 25, Brig- 
ham Young, Orson Pratt, John E. Page, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, 
George A. Smith, and Alpheus Cutler rode into the public square shortly 
after midnight. They held a conference, proceeded to the temple site, sang 
a hymn, and laid the foundation stone of the temple on the southeast cor- 
ner, where it remains to this day. They sang another hymn, prayed, and 
turned again toward Illinois. 


1. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94c, 84 of the section titled "History of Heber 
Chase Kimball by his own dictation," Church Archives. 

2. Journal of Discourses, vol. 4 (Sept. 28, 1856), 108. 

3. Times and Seasons, June 15, 1839. 

4. Document Containing the Correspondence, Order, &c, in Relation to the 
Disturbances with the Mormons . . . (Fayette, Mo.: Published by order of the Gen- 
eral Assembly, 1841), 61. Only during July, 1976, did Missouri officials remove 
this order from the books. 

5. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 8 (May 5, 1880), 189. 

6. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94b, Nov. 1, 1838, Church Archives. 

Unknown in Missouri 63 

7. Emma Smith to Joseph Smith, Mar. 7, 1839, Joseph Smith Collection, 
Church Archives. 

8. See below, p. 113 — 14. 

9. Joseph Smith to H. C. Kimball and B. Young, Jan. 16, 1839, Winslow 
Whitney Smith Papers, Church Archives. 

10. H. C. Kimball to Joseph Fielding, Mar. 12, 1839. Original in possession 
of J. Leroy Kimball. Used by permission. 

11. Minutes, Nov. 2, 1845, Thomas Bullock Collection, Church Archives. 

12. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94c, 101, Church Archives. 

13. Ibid., 99. 

14. There are two copies of this revelation. One is recorded in Journal 91 on 
(unnumbered) p. 50, following some Feb., 1841, entries in England, and is not in 
Kimball^ hand. The other copy is Journal 94b in the back, and is in Kimball's own 
handwriting. He may have originally written the revelation in his own hand and 
later, for some reason, it may have been copied by one of his wives, children, or 


A Brief Sojourn in Nauvoo 

In Illinois the Mormons reached social as well as doctrinal maturity and 
became a people — a complete social order, not just another faith. During 
the Illinois period Mormonism was more widely discussed in the public 
press than any other religion; certainly no other religious leader was as 
well known as Joseph Smith; and no city was more talked about than the 
Mormon headquarters, Nauvoo. During this period missionary work was 
enormously expanded and thousands were converted. Many of the Twelve 
Apostles went to England to enlarge that Old World beachhead which had 
been started by Heber in 1837, and nearly every state east of the Mis- 
sissippi and parts of Canada was visited by other missionaries. Also, in 
Illinois the ever-expanding citadel of Mormon theology was enlarged. Sev- 
eral of its most esoteric doctrines, such as polygamy and temple ordi- 
nances, were here first enunciated and practiced, attracting both attention 
and condemnation. 

The Illinois period of church history lasted nearly seven years, and for 
more than half of this time Heber was away. During this period he would 
go on four more missions, for a total of eight (including a second one to 
England), build three homes, receive a patriarchal blessing and a phreno- 
logical reading, help organize five Masonic lodges, enter into polygamy, 
help build and officiate in the Nauvoo Temple, contribute to the official 
history of the church, and aid in the preparation of the Saints for the ex- 
odus west. 

On May 2, 1839, Heber found his family in Quincy in good health: 
they had been treated with kindness. For seven weeks after leaving Mis- 
souri, they had roomed with the wife of Colonel William Ross in Atlas, 1 a 
member of the Illinois General Assembly and a friend of Lincoln. (It is pos- 
sible that Lincoln's later tolerance of the Mormons may have resulted, in 
part, from the stories of Missouri persecution he may have heard from the 


A Brief Sojourn in Nauvoo 65 

Ross family.) Later, John P. Greene, Brigham Young's brother-in-law, 
moved Vilate and her children into a rented room in Quincy, where the 
refugees were generally made welcome by a people both sympathetic with 
their plight and sorely in need of settlers and tax dollars. 

The next day the Apostles conferred with Joseph Smith about the 
condition of the church. On May 4 a general conference was held to dis- 
cuss the future home of the Saints and to consider the proposition that the 
new gathering place be Commerce, Illinois, located about fifty miles north 
of Quincy on the Mississippi. This proposed gathering place was an exten- 
sive and fertile floodplain on a beautiful bend of the river surrounded by 
high bluffs. Its chief drawback was that it was marshy. Commerce, on part 
of a 3.5-million-acre military tract which had been originally set aside for 
land bounties to veterans of the War of 181 2, was owned by an eastern 
land speculator, Isaac Galland, who made the exiled Mormons an attrac- 
tive offer. After due consideration, the site was purchased, and on May 10 
Joseph moved his family there. 

On May 12, Heber and others of the Council of the Twelve joined 
Joseph in Commerce, later renamed Nauvoo, a unique place name which 
came out of the Hebrew class taught earlier in Kirtland during the winter 
of 1836. Joseph Smith had learned two Hebrew words — naivaiv and 
nawvaw (or nawveh), both meaning attractive, pleasant, suitable, beauti- 
ful, a pasture, a place for rest and beauty, like the "green pastures" of the 
Twenty-third Psalm. Three years later in Illinois, standing on the bluffs 
above Commerce, Joseph was impressed with the charm of that particular 
bend in the Mississippi and was moved to give his future city a beautiful 
and unusual name. 

Before Heber ever saw the new gathering place, however, he knew his 
first stay there would not be long, for he had been expecting to return to 
England for nearly a year. Unsettled conditions in Ohio and Missouri had 
prevented this return, but after spending four months resettling his family 
in peaceful Illinois, he would leave again for England. 

Not only did he realize his first stay in Illinois would be of short dura- 
tion, but he seemed to know that the whole Nauvoo period would not last 
long. On May 25, during deliberations with Galland, who also had quasi 
title to much land in Iowa, Heber accompanied Joseph Smith and others 
across the river to Montrose, Lee County, Iowa — just opposite Nauvoo. 
Standing by the boat's railing, enjoying an untroubled Illinois spring after 
a tragic Missouri winter and admiring Nauvoo's beautiful site, Heber re- 
marked disconcertingly, "It is a very pretty place, but not a long abiding 
place for the Saints." Sidney Rigdon, stern, humorless, and possessed of a 


good stone home, was highly offended. He retorted, "I should suppose 
that Elder Kimball had passed through sufferings and privations and mob- 
bings and drivings enough to learn to prophesy good concerning Israel." 

Heber, who knew Rigdon's temperament and expected chastisement, 
then demonstrated another saving grace, one for which he became greatly 
loved in the church — a sense of humor. He quickly agreed with Rigdon, 
then slyly added, "President Rigdon, I'll prophesy good concerning you all 
the time if you can get it!" 2 Joseph laughed and Rigdon yielded the point. 

Soon thereafter, Heber moved Vilate and their three children, Wil- 
liam, Helen, and Heber Parley, from Quincy into a log shack which he had 
thrown together out of an old stable belonging to a "Brother Bozier" 
(possibly Bozarth, a pre-Mormon settler), who lived about a mile from 

It is difficult to imagine Heber's state of mind during his first few 
months in Nauvoo. The Ohio and Missouri trials had cost him his prop- 
erty and money, his wife was advanced in pregnancy, his family was living 
in a miserable hut, and he was supposed to be getting ready to leave on a 
second mission to England, over 6,000 miles away. Also, the swampy river 
bottoms were causing much sickness, including a form of cholera and "the 
ague," a debilitating disease of alternating chills and fever (probably ty- 
phoid or malaria) which could hang on for weeks or months and cause 
delirium. When Heber was not ill himself, he was often tending to the 
needs of his family and others who were. His materia medica would have 
been limited, however. He probably administered Sappington's pills (a 
compound of quinine), or perhaps the popular and all-purpose "cobweb" 
pill, and various brews made from the inside bark of fir balsam and yellow 
birch, from white ash bark, or from a mixture of sassafras and mullen 

As quickly as possible he tried to provide better housing for his fam- 
ily. Acquiring five acres of land about a mile from the river facing Munson 
Street between Fulmer and Cordon streets (just east of present-day Nau- 
voo State Park), he erected a fourteen-by-sixteen-foot log cabin. But he 
had not finished it by August 13, when in the Bozier shack Vilate gave 
birth to a new son named David Patten (spelled Patton by the Kimballs), 
after their great friend who had fallen in Missouri. 

About two weeks later, Heber moved his family into their new home 
and prepared to leave for England. On September 14, Brigham Young, 
who was then living in the abandoned Fort Des Moines across the river in 
Montrose, left his sick wife with a ten-day-old infant to join Heber for 
England. But Young was so sick himself that he collapsed at the Kimballs. 
Heber, also ill, now had Brigham Young, in addition to his own sick wife 

A Brief Sojourn in Nauvoo 67 

and children, to care for. On September yj Mary Ann Young came over to 
try to help. Four adults and several children, all sick in a small log cabin — 
that was the preface to Heber's second mission to England. On the next 
day, he and Brigham left in a wagon. 

The circumstances of their departure were appalling and heartbreak- 
ing. With the exception of one child, no one was well enough even to see 
the missionaries to the door. Four-year-old Heber Parley could just man- 
age to carry cups of water to the sick. Helen did not even have shoes, and 
all the money Heber could leave Vilate was nine dollars, which she had to 
spend the next day to pay a debt.* 

As Heber drove off, he felt as though his "very inmost parts would 
melt" at the thought of leaving his family in such circumstances. He could 
not endure such a leave-taking. Asking the teamster to hold up, he said to 
Brigham, "This is pretty tough, but let's rise, and give them a cheer." They 
did so, swinging their hats three times over their heads and chanting, 
"Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah for Israel!" Vilate, hearing the noise, managed to 
get to the door and call out, "Good bye; God bless you!" Seeing her once 
more on her feet filled Heber with a spirit of joy and gratitude. 4 

The first part of the journey, from Nauvoo to New York, was an ad- 
venture in itself. Friends and relatives carried the missionaries in wagons 
by way of Lima, Quincy; and Pittsfield to Winchester, Illinois, to the home 
of Heber's father-in-law, Roswell Murray. Murray, who wished to visit his 
old home, joined them. Near Winchester they picked up the old Zion's 
Camp route and followed it generally back to Kirtland. 

By the time they reached Terre Haute, Indiana, Heber was so sick it 
became necessary for him to seek medical help. Unfortunately the doctor 
he visited was drunk, and he carelessly gave him a tablespoon of morphine, 
which could have been lethal. Heber soon felt very strange and fell to the 
floor. When he came to, he found Brigham anxiously watching over him. 
"Don't be scared," Heber assured him, "I shan't die." Because he vomited 
frequently and was continuously in a cold sweat, his body eliminated the 
drug. Brigham attended him constantly, washing him and changing his un- 
derclothing five times that long night. Although he was better by morning, 
his father-in-law did not expect him to survive. Heber told the others to go 
on, that he and Brigham would still reach Kirtland before them. 

This part of the trip was occasion for another minor miracle. At 
Pleasant Grove, Indiana, the two missionaries had noted they had only 
$13.50 between them. Arriving November 3 in Kirtland (before his com- 
panions, as predicted), Heber was amazed to reckon they had paid out 
over $87. "We had," he calculated, "traveled over four hundred miles by 


stage, for which we paid from eight to ten cents a mile, and had taken 
three meals a day, for each of which we were charged fifty cents, also fifty 
cents for our lodgings. Brother Brigham often suspected that I put the 
money in his trunk of clothes, thinking that I had a purse of money which I 
had not acquainted him with; but this was not so; the money could only 
have been put in his trunk by some heavenly messenger, who thus admin- 
istered to our necessities daily as he knew we needed." 5 

Walking through the neglected and nearly deserted streets, Heber 
found Kirtland a desolate-looking place; about half the houses were empty 
and falling into ruin, and the town was still full of the same spirit of apos- 
tasy and dissension that had earlier driven the Saints to Missouri. "I am 
disappointed," he reported in one letter to Vilate, "in what I expected to 
find here. I anticipated meeting the Brethren united and enjoying the bless- 
ings of the people of God, but to my sorrow, 1 found them all broken up 
and divided into several different parties. . . ."* 

Other letters reveal the surprising fact that Vilate wanted to leave 
frontier Nauvoo and return to more settled Kirtland or Victor. "As for 
going to Kirtland to live as things are now it is against my will," Heber 
responded, "for I had rather live in a cave or be driven with the Saints 
every other year while I live and be one than to have all the good things of 
the Earth and be at variance one with the other as they are there, for you 
can't find two that agree." " Again he emphasized, "I don't want to settle in 
the East now ... I don't want to settle in the East without times change." 8 

As a counterproposal, he urged Vilate to come east for a visit, go to 
Victor the next summer, and stay with friends and relatives until he re- 
turned from England. Then, in a manner suggesting that there might have 
been some stigma attached to those leaving Nauvoo for personal reasons, 
he wrote, "I think no one will have any objections of your visiting your 
friends." 9 The actions of the Apostle's wife were obviously of public inter- 
est. Had Heber agreed to leave Nauvoo and return east he would have ap- 
peared disloyal and most likely would have forfeited his apostleship. That 
Vilate must have realized this but still wanted to leave is surely an indica- 
tion of the degree of hardship she was facing. 

Following three weeks in Kirtland, Heber spent the next six in west- 
ern New York, visiting and preaching to relatives in Byron, Pike, Roches- 
ter, Mendon, and Victor. All were happy to see him, most were sympa- 
thetic to what he had suffered since he left Mendon, some offered to help if 
he would forsake Mormonism, but only Vilate's brother, William E. Mur- 
ray, and his wife (and perhaps their two children, Carlos and Jenette) ac- 
cepted baptism at his hands. 

A Brief Sojourn in Nanvoo 69 

Heber left Mcndon on January 10, 1840, arriving in New York City 
about a week Inter — nearly five months after leaving Nauvoo. There 
Heber and his fellows did some proselytizing, strengthened the branch of 
about 200, and gathered a supply of potatoes, dried codfish, apples, 
plums, pork, beef, butter, bread, pickles, horseradish, salt, sugar, crackers, 
and mustard for the voyage. On March 9, Heber, Brigham Young, Orson 
Pratt, Parley Pratt, George A. Smith, and Reuben Hedlock went again to 
Packet Row on the East River and boarded the Patrick Henry of the Black 
Ball Line, on which they had booked second cabin. They stored their 
provisions and bedding, hired a cook for a dollar a day to prepare meals 
for them, and made themselves as comfortable as possible for the twenty- 
eight-day crossing, which, though it included sixteen days of storms, was 
otherwise uneventful. 


i . The Ross home was located east of the road about 1 00 yards north of the 
intersection of roads 54 and 96 in Atlas. Brigham Young probably stayed in the 
storehouse still standing on the northwest corner of this same intersection. 

2. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94c, 104, Church Archives. 

3. Vilate's obituary, Deseret News, Dec. 25, 1867. 

4. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94c, 1 1 1, Church Archives. 

5. Ibid., 1 14-15. 

6. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Nov. 16, 1839, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

7. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Dec. 27, 1839. Original in possession of 
J. Leroy Kimball. Used by permission. 

8. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Mar. 5, 1840, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

9. Ibid. 


Second Mission to England 

The missionaries landed at Liverpool on April 6, 1840, the tenth anniver- 
sary of the organization of the church. Three days later they were in Pres- 
ton — two years to the day since Heber had left England. During the 
interim, between 800 and 900 new members had been baptized, Scotland 
had been opened up to missionary work, and Manchester had come to 
rival Preston as church headquarters. 

A general conference was quickly convened in Preston for April 
14—16. Back again in the familiar Cock Pit, Heber conducted, and eight of 
the Quorum of the Twelve were in attendance — Brigham Young, Heber 
Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, 
George A. Smith, and Willard Richards — the largest number ever, before 
or since, assembled outside the United States, a fact that suggests the im- 
portance Joseph Smith placed on the British mission. Over 500 members 
attended, representing thirty-four branches and a total of 1,850 members. 
At this conference the British mission, until then a loose organization of 
individuals and branches, was formally institutionalized. Brigham Young 
was sustained formally as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and 
new missionary assignments were made; Heber Kimball, Brigham Young, 
and Parley Pratt were appointed as a publishing committee, and another 
conference was set for July 6 in Manchester. Thereafter the leaders scat- 
tered to Scotland, Liverpool, Manchester, Staffordshire, and Herfordshire. 

Heber's assignment was to visit all the branches he had previously 
organized on his first mission. He found to his satisfaction that many had 
remained faithful and welcomed his return. After this tour he went to 
Manchester, the new center of church activities. There he helped with the 
publication of the Millennial Star (the first Mormon periodical in the Old 
World), the Book of Mormon, and some hymnals. 

By the time Heber reached Manchester, he was aware that economic 
conditions had not improved since his first mission; rather, the depression 


Second Mission to England 71 

and the plight of the poor had worsened. So bad, in fact, was the economic 
situation that the government was recommending migration, and the la- 
boring classes were demanding political and economic reforms through 
the Chartist movement. Heber wrote Joseph Smith: 

With regard to the state of the country we may say it is bad indeed: 
trade appears to be growing worse, in fact, many branches of it is al- 
most at a stand, and not expected much to improve for some months. 
Thousands are out of employ, and we may safely say that there are 
thousands famishing for want of bread: we often see in the streets 
whole families begging for bread; and in many instances some re- 
spectable looking characters may be seen singing through the streets 
to obtain a little bread; it is truly heart rending to see so many small 
children nearly naked, going from house to house begging. This scene 
of things is passing before our eyes daily, and we look upon it with 
sorrow and regret. 1 

As in 1837, the want and dilemma of the English people did not pre- 
clude their interest in the missionaries' message of hope and dignity. The 
July conference in Carpenters Hall in Manchester recorded 2,513 mem- 
bers in eighty branches — an increase of 842 members since April. To help 
with the work, fifteen local Elders were called as missionaries, another 
conference was scheduled, and a decision was made to take the message of 
the Restoration to the capital of the Empire — London. 

Accordingly, on August 4, Heber, with Wilford Woodruff and George 
A. Smith, slowly made his way there by rail, visiting branches along the 
way at Barslem, West Bromwich, Birmingham, Ledbury, Dymock, Surry, 
Hull, Leigh, and Chattenham, on August 18 arriving at the Great Western 
Railway Station (now Paddington). Heber viewed London as Paul had 
Rome — 'The Metropolis of England, the pride and glory of Britain, the 
boast of the Gentiles and the largest commercial city in the world . . . 
ripening in iniquity and preparing for the wrath of God" 2 — and he felt he 
must "bear witness" there. 

On that day the Times was full of news about the visit of the king and 
queen of the Belgians, Parliament, the Irish question, the opening of the 
grouse season, the opera and theatre, some sensational murders, and many 
bankruptcies. During Heber's stay in London this newspaper took no 
notice of the Mormons there, but did print four brief notices about this 
"new sect" in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and on the Isle of Man. 

Heber and his companions took a coach for four miles through the 
city, passing Hyde Park, then along the great commercial thoroughfare of 
Oxford Street, through Oxford Circus, down High Holborn Street, and 
past the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange to London Bridge. 


Looking east from the bridge, they could see the famous gray stone battle- 
ments of the Norman fortress known as the Tower of London. To the 
northwest was the vast panorama of the Caput Regni dominated by St. 
PauPs. Straight ahead to the south lay the borough of Southark, where 
they called on a Mrs. William Allgood at 19 King (now Newcomen) Street, 
not far from where the famous Globe Theatre of Shakespeare's day stood. 
Mrs. Allgood, sister-in-law of Theodore Turley, one of Heber's compan- 
ions, suggested they take lodging across the street in the King's Arms Inn 
until she could find them accommodations with a family. 

For a few days they did extensive sightseeing, which they felt was per- 
fectly consistent with their calling, and necessary in the overall task of 
building the Kingdom. They visited various Christopher Wren monu- 
ments, the Tower of London, the Bank of England, St. Paul's, Westminster 
Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, the Guildhall, St. James Park, the British 
Museum, St. Catherine's Dock, and the London Dock. An enormous wine 
vault especially impressed Heber. It covered nine acres and contained 
40,000 pipes of wine and 30,000 of port. "We traversed every part of it," 
he later related, "each one carried a lamp in their hand: we tasted the 
wine, having an order granting us that liberty." ' 

Afterward they attended services in a synagogue. Although he had es- 
sayed Hebrew, this was apparently Heber's first meaningful experience 
with the Jewish religion. At the door they were requested to put on their 
hats. Inside, Heber was so impressed with the "beauty and splendor 
thereof" that he reverently removed his hat, only to be asked to replace it. 

During the service he was unusually solemn. "I looked upon those 
sons of illustrious sires," he recorded, "with mingled emotions of joy and 
sorrow for the unparalleled cruelties which had been inflicted on their 
Nation, and joy that the day of their redemption was near." 4 A cardinal 
belief in Mormonism is that the Jews will eventually be gathered and "re- 
deemed." Mormons also consider themselves to be cousins to the Jews. 
According to Mormon doctrine, modern Jews are descended from the 
Tribe of Judah of the House of Israel, and most Mormons consider them- 
selves to be of the Tribe of Ephraim, one of the "Lost Ten Tribes" of the 
same house. 

Heber may have been more than ordinarily interested in the Jews and 
the "gathering," for Apostle Orson Hyde had already passed through 
London on his way to Palestine by order of Joseph Smith to dedicate that 
land, then under Turkish misrule, to the return of the Jews — an act which 
ever afterward caused most Mormons to be sympathetic with Zionism. 

On a January 26 ramble through London, Heber and his companions 
were among the several hundred thousand who saw Queen Victoria and 

Second Mission to England 73 

her retinue pass St. James Park en route to the House of Lords to open 
Parliament, but he was too much of an egalitarian Yankee to be much im- 
pressed. "We stood within eight or nine feet of her when she passed and 
returned. She made her obeisance to us, and we returned it. She is a pleas- 
ant little body," he grumped, "but what a fuss there is over one little girl." s 
What a "stur thare is made over a little queen; at the same time thousands 
are starving to death for a little bread/'' 6 He did see to it later, however, 
that Victoria and Albert received specially bound copies of the Book of 

The missionaries began to preach in open-air meetings, to call on 
ministers, and to visit chapels. Among those called upon were the fol- 
lowers of Joanna Southcott (who had declared she would be the mother of 
Shiloh, a second messiah), various temperance societies, and the Reverend 
Robert Aitken himself. Heber found the followers of Southcott divided, 
the temperance societies friendly, and Aitken still smarting over his loss to 
the Mormons in Preston and Liverpool. "His people Seam to be Ripe 
here," he noted in his journal, "but we have now [no] way to bare our 
testimony to them as yet. He is a Smart man and tells what is going to 
befall the nations, but he himself does not know what to do, but ses all the 
Sex [sects] of the day are going down to Hell." They preached with little 
success in Tabernacle Square in Old Street and held services in Barrett's 
Academy on King's Square off Goswell Road. In general, London was ob- 
durate and uninterested. "Thare has been so menny fals things Risen in 
this city," Heber explained, "the peoples Eyes are blinded against the 
truth. The Sex [sects] Seam to bee in a dredful State at present here as we 
have tended thare meetings in the Evning to see if thare is no place for us 
to Brack [break] in. All does Seam to be closed at present."" 

Typically, he was not disheartened: "You may think I feel discouraged 
my dear Vilate. I will Say unto you: I never have Seen the first moment as 
yet, fore I dow not see anything to discourage me ... I know that I am 
built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. . . ."* 

The missionaries finally baptized a convert on August 31, but by the 
October conference in Manchester they had raised up a branch of only 
eleven members — not much, but ten years later there would be more than 
3,000 Mormons in London, not counting those who had emigrated. Else- 
where in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and on the Isle of Man the 
work had been progressing much better. A total of 3,62.6 members, for an 
increase of 1,113 ( or 7° percent) in the preceding three months, was re- 
ported at the conference. 

Following the Manchester conference, Heber and Wilford Woodruff 
returned to London, arriving there November 30. Taking Lodgings at 40 


Ironmongers Row, St. Luke's Parish, they recommenced their work. A typ- 
ical entry from Heber's journal for this period reads: "December the 20, 
1840 being the Sabbath Day Mr. [James] Alburn a preacher of the Inde- 
pendent order cald on Elder Woodruff and myself to go with him to his 
chappel. After the fore noon Service Mr. Alburn gave out for us to preach 
in his chappel next Sunday Evening. On the Evening of 21 tended a place 
called the Consert [conservatory] of Musick of all kinds of instruments 
composed of French [and] Germans mostly. . . ." v 

In his last letter home of the year 1 840 Heber told of sightseeing, diffi- 
culties, and activities, and then made the earliest known reference to his 
oft-repeated metaphor of the clay and the potter. "I have got so I feel per- 
fectly easy about these things," he assured Vilate, "for they are the work of 
God and not the work of man. I know no other way than to be subject to 
the powers that be. I pray my Father will give me this disposition, for I 
wish to be in the hands of God as the clay in the hands of the potter." 10 

The well known successes of these early Elders, recounted extensively 
in Mormon history, should be supplemented with the story of the hard- 
ships of the wives and children left behind in Nauvoo. With their hus- 
bands away so long and so often on missions, some Mormon women were 
more like widows than wives. The letters of Vilate and Helen to Heber 
reveal something of the life back home. The family continued to suffer 
with the ague. "All I can ask of you," Vilate wrote, "is to pray that 1 may 
have patience to endure to the end whether it is long or short." " She still 
wanted to leave Illinois and return to the amenities of Kirtland, but Heber 
remained adamant. "Do not be disheartened," he wrote. "I think I could 
communicate better with you if you should stay there than I could in Kirt- 
land, for there will be saints coming through most of the time." 12 

During the spring, Vilate chided her husband for not writing, and he 
answered with uncharacteristic sharpness: "You thought I had forgotten 
my family; you have been quite out of your head for I have remembered 
you in all of my prairs. 1 think it is the other way . . . you have tried to 
palm things on me that you are gu[i]lty of your Self." n 

In June, Vilate expected to get a cow; she had a pig, and plenty of 
potatoes, turnips, and other garden produce. "I hope I shall not have to 
call on the Bishop again while you are gone. . . ," she wrote. "I am glad 
Brother Brigham has sent some assistance to his family for they were 
needy. Their house could hardly be called a shelter. They will soon have it 
fixed nice. Elizabeth and Vilate [Young] are both sick with the chills, how- 
ever, the rest of the families of brethren are well as far as I know." In Oc- 

Second Mission to England 75 

tober she reported that his missionary journal of 1837 would soon be 
printed. 14 

In a letter of December 8, Vilate started out cheerfully and sympathet- 
ically enough. She had enjoyed visiting with some recent converts who had 
just arrived in Nauvoo, but was pained that Heber was still in a land of 
strangers, with no one to administer him comfort. She then shared a recent 
sorrow: her father, who had accompanied Heber back east, had just died 
in Victor. "The last news that I had from father before," she reported, "he 
was well, and calculated to set out on his journey for this place the first of 
October, and had for some time daily been anticipating his arrival here, 
but alas! how are my fond anticipations blasted? and my joy is turned to 
mourning. " She then added a lament she had written to express her grief. 
Her effort at poetry relates her trials in the context of her underlying faith 
in God: 

My husband's gone, my Father's dead, 
But my ever living head; 
Always hears my souls complaint 
And ever comforts me when faint. 

If I could fly to you I would, 

But the Lord is very good; 

He will care for him that's dead 

And you who from your family's fled. 

1, here with four children dear, 
But I know I need not fear; 
For the Lord is always nigh, 
And will all my wants supply. 

O Lord it is my souls desire 
That thou would my heart inspire 
With a fore knowledge of thy will, 
That I may all thy law fulfill. 

Vilate was also having financial difficulties, "it costs a great deal to 
support your family," she reminded him; "we are continually on expence, 
and not earning a cent. There was rising of thirty dollars due this fall on 
our land, but I pled off for the present by paying fifteen dollars; I told 
[Hiram] Kimball 15 I would pay him the rest in the spring, or before if I 
could." She hoped Heber would soon come home. "The children are all 
impatient to have you come; you are loosing all the most interesting part 
of David's life, a child is never so pretty as when they first begin to walk 


and talk. He goes prattleing about the house, and you may be assured that 
we think he is cunning. Elizabeth [Young] calls him Heber altogether, and 
every one that sees him says that ought to be his name, he looks so much 
like you." 16 

Years later, Helen Kimball offered a few more glimpses of life back 
home at that time. Since Nauvoo had no chapels, several families held Sab- 
bath meetings in the Kimball home; the spinsters Laura and Abigail Pitkin 
came from Quincy to live with Vilate; and Helen and William attended 
school during the winter. Helen and William received gifts from their fa- 
ther, copies of the new British edition of the Book of Mormon with their 
names printed thereon in gold letters. Helen also got handkerchiefs, little 
china dishes, and dolls. Once when Joseph Smith called by her home (to 
read a letter from Heber) he accidentally broke one of these dolls. Accord- 
ing to Helen all the Prophet said, by way of excusing himself, was "As that 
has fallen, so shall the heathen gods fall." She thought this a "rather weak 
apology for breaking her dolPs head off." Helen also told of the dread 
cholera and remembered that to keep the Saints from drinking unboiled 
water, Joseph advised tea and coffee, giving the Saints an excuse to back- 
slide and no longer keep the Word of Wisdom (the stringent Mormon 
standard of health) so strictly as before. 17 

The grim circumstances of sickness were lightened somewhat by the 
childish games Helen and her brothers played to cheat the "old gentle- 
man," that is, the ague. Sometimes when they began to feel the chills come 
upon them, they would run toward the bed as if to get on it, but suddenly 
dart under the bed, "thus cheating the old gentleman, who would go as 
usual on to bed." Once Helen hit her head so hard on the bed that she felt 
neither chills nor fever for three weeks, "but whether it was due to the 
blow on my head or my faith in the trick" she could never quite decide. 18 

During this time Vilate was cheered by the report that one of the 
Three Nephites had told Joseph that the work in England would be "short 
and powerful." 19 Tales of the Three Nephites abound in Mormondom to 
the present day; their origin is a Book of Mormon story that during 
Christ's short ministry in the New World, three of his Nephite disciples 
requested and received permission to tarry on the earth and do good until 
the Second Coming. Almost every Mormon community cherishes at least 
one experience with one of the Three Nephites, who suddenly appears to 
help in some hour of need and then mysteriously disappears. 

Back in London, Heber's mission was drawing to a close. On Febru- 
ary 8, 1 84 1, he secured the British copyright to the Book of Mormon. 

Second Mission to England 77 

Going to Stationer's Hall in the shadow of St. Paul's, he deposited five cop- 
ies of the book and paid the clerk three shillings. In the old hall's vaults, 
the "Entry of Copyright Ledger" records briefly the application for the 
copyright of the "First European Edition from the Second American 

A week later, on February 14, the missionaries held the first con- 
ference of the London District. Four branches in London, Bedford, Ips- 
wich, and Woolrich reported only 106 members. The London mission had 
not been very successful, but it was time to leave. After a quick visit to the 
famous dissecting room at Barts (St. Bartholomew Hospital, which was 
made even more famous for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle having had Dr. John 
Watson first meet Sherlock Holmes there in 1881), Heber placed Lorenzo 
Snow in charge and with Wilford Woodruff left to attend the April con- 
ference in Manchester and then return to Nauvoo. The conference re- 
ported 5,814 members, besides about 800 who had emigrated to the 
United States. 

One contemporary summary of this mission reports that the mission- 
aries had "baptized between seven and eight thousand and established 
branches in almost every noted town and city, printed 5,000 copies of the 
Book of Mormon, 3,000 hymnals, 50,000 tracts, 2,500 copies of the Mil- 
lennial Star, established a permanent shipping agency, and arranged for 
the emigration of about 1,000 saints to Zion." 20 The Old World beach- 
head had been made secure. For decades thousands of British converts 
would immigrate to Illinois and the Great Basin. Of his own missionary 
prowess Heber later modestly said, "The Elders now have to labor a great 
deal harder to bring people into the Church than they did in the rise of it. 
There is not now one man brought to the knowledge of the truth by re- 
ceiving the Gospel to where there was a hundred thirty years ago." 21 

Many of these early converts of the period 1837 to 1841 remained 
humble and steadfast in the faith and immigrated to the United States. Of 
those that stayed in England some also remained faithful, but many left 
the church. Part of the explanation for the high recidivism was the fact 
that many of the early converts were baptized immediately after hearing 
one or two sermons and received very little follow-up instruction. Many 
also fell away after the public admission of plural marriage in 1852. Many 
years later in Utah, Heber mentioned publicly how few of his early con- 
verts had remained true to the faith. "I do not believe," he declared, "of all 
the Branches of this church that were raised up twenty-five years ago, that 
there is one man out of twenty who now stands firm and is living. Of the 
two thousand whom I and my brethren baptized, when we first went to 


old England, I do not believe there are five hundred now in the Church." 22 
Others remained steadfast but not very humble. Of them, a later mis- 
sionary George Q. Cannon wrote to Heber from Liverpool in 1863: 

There are many Branches of the Church which contain members who 
have held standing there from the time the Gospel was first preached 
here until the present. They have seen and heard yourself and others 
of the first missionaries to this county preach and what they think 
they don't know would scarcely be worth learning. There are some 
who seem to act as though they thought it was sufficient glory for 
them for one lifetime to have seen and heard Brother Brigham and 
yourself preach. ... In the Branches where there are numbers of these 
old members, the Elders are apt to have more or less difficulty; for 
such persons imagine that they ought to be treated as full grown men 
in the Gospel of Jesus when in reality they are but babes. 23 

The Manchester conference closed the mission of the Twelve in En- 
gland. On April 29, Heber and six other of the Twelve left Liverpool with 
a company of 130 emigrants aboard the Rochester. This company was the 
eighth to leave England since forty-one converts sailed June 6, 1840, on 
the Britannia. By April, 1841, Mormon emigrant routine and discipline 
had evolved and it was common knowledge among seamen that the Mor- 
mon groups were the most orderly and sanitary of all. Aboard ship the 
Mormons kept together, selected their own leaders, made their own reg- 
ulations, set their own night watches, and insisted on saintly conduct. Ris- 
ing, prayer, meals, cleaning, worship services, and retiring were at set 
times. During the days and evenings cultural and educational activities 
such as singing, study classes, and lectures were also arranged. 

This crossing — Heber's fourth and last — was rough. The sea ran 
high, sails were frequently reefed, and they often shipped water. Once he 
and some other Elders had to help secure forty tons of baggage which 
threatened to break loose. There w r as much sickness, and one child was 
buried at sea. Thirty days later they landed in New York City, and by July 
1 were back in Nauvoo. 


1 . Times and Seasons, July 7, 1 840. 

z. H. C. Kimball to E. Robinson and D. C. Smith, Oct. 12, 1840, ibid., Dec. 
15, 1840. 

3. Ibid., Aug. 16, 1 84 1. 

4. Ibid. 

Second Mission to England 79 

5. President Heber C. Kimball $ Journal (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor's 
Office, 1882), 103. 

6. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Sept. 19, 1840, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

7. H. C. Kimball to "Brother Robinson/' Aug. 21, 1840. Original in posses- 
sion of J. Leroy Kimball. Used by permission. 

8. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Sept. 19, 1840, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

9. H. C. Kimball, Journal 91, Dec. 20, 1840, Church Archives. Alburn (Al- 
bion) and some of his congregation later joined the Mormons. 

10. O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 298—301. 

11. Vilate Kimball to H. C. Kimball, Sept. 21, 1836, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

12. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Sept. 21, 1839, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

13. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, May 27, 1840. Original in possession of 
J. Leroy Kimball. Used by permission. 

14. Vilate Kimball to H. C. Kimball, June 6 and Oct. 1 1, 1 840, H. C Kim- 
ball Papers, Church Archives. This is a reference to what was published as Journal 
of Heber C. Kimball . . . (Nauvoo, 1840) — a 60-page booklet printed by R. B. 
Thompson. Of the origin of this booklet we know only the following: in what is 
known as Journal 94b (a dictated account of Kimball's life to about 1 840), p. 79, 
we find, "I here insert a copy of a pamphlet published by Robert B. Thompson 
while I was on my second mission to England; he and I went into the woods near 
the city of Quincy on a high hill, where we sat down and I gave him a short sched- 
ule of my first mission to England from memory, not having my journal in my pos- 
session. I omitted many dates in the copy which I here insert. I fill up the dates 
more particularly and also make corrections and additions." 

This revised version has never been published (although Whitney copied ex- 
tensive sections of it), and when Kimball's Journal was reprinted in the Faith Pro- 
moting Series in 1 880, this revised manuscript was ignored. 

The original journal which Kimball did not have with him in Quincy is 
known as Journal 90, and the portion written on his first English mission is only 
39 pages long. 

15. Three brothers, Hiram, Ethan, and Phineas Kimball, were pre-Mormon 
land speculators from Vermont living in Nauvoo. They were cousins of Heber. 
Only Hiram joined the church and went west. 

16. Vilate Kimball to H. C. Kimball, Dec. 8, 1840. Original in possession of 
J. Leroy Kimball. Used by permission. She also told Heber that his English mission- 
ary journal of 1 83-% the first book to issue from the Mormon press in Nauvoo, had 
just been printed (see n. 14 above). 

17. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 10 (July 15, 1881), 26, vol. 10 
(Aug. 1, 1 881), 24. Sec n. 5, chap. 17. 

18. Ibid., 16. 

19. Ibid.,vo\. 10 (Feb. 15, 1882), 138. 


20. Elden Jay Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young: 1801- 
1844 (Salt Lake City: Elden Jay Watson, 1968), 97. 

21. Journal of Discourses^ vol. 10 (July 19, 1863), 240. 

22. Ibid. y vol. 5 (Sept. 27, 1857), 275. Heber never mentioned working as a 
missionary outside Lancashire and London. There is some evidence that he did 
some preaching in Wales too. In a letter to his wife, Mary Ann, on Nov. 12, 1840, 
Brigham Young wrote, "We have hered from Wales whare Br Kimball and I went, a 
grate meny of the people was sorry they did not obey the gospel when we ware 
there. . . ." Blair Collection, University of Utah. I would like to thank Ronald 
Esplin for drawing this to my attention. 

23. George Q. Cannon to H. C. Kimball, Jan. 10, 1863. Original in posses- 
sion of Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission. (Copies of all the Kimball materi- 
als in possession of Spencer W. Kimball are as of 1980 in the Church Archives.) 


New Experiences at Nauvoo 

Stepping off the riverboat at Nauvoo, Heber found his sixteen-year-old 
son, William, waiting for him and anxious to escort his father home. But 
Joseph Smith was also there with other plans for the returning mission- 
aries. Strangely ignoring their desires to meet first with their families, he 
insisted on taking them to his home for a dinner in their honor. It was, 
understandably, a hurried affair, and as quickly as possible Heber, accom- 
panied by a few others, headed for home. At the sight of a company of 
horsemen bearing down on her, Vilate hid behind the cabin door to hide 
her confusion. Moments later Heber found her there overwhelmed in 
tears, which he kissed away as he tried to obliterate their twenty-two- 
month separation. 

Heber's first desire at home in 1841 was to provide his family with a 
more suitable home. At the suggestion of Joseph, who wanted Heber liv- 
ing closer to him, he exchanged his property on high ground for corner lot 
3 in block 6 on the flats closer to the river. There he built a log house of 
three lower rooms and one upstairs. To this log portion he later added one 
brick room. Still later he removed the log portion and replaced it with the 
two-story brick structure which is still standing and which has been re- 
stored close to its original state. 

Not only did Joseph want Heber living closer to him, he wanted him 
and other Apostles to take over a large share of day-to-day administration. 
This was the beginning, as Leonard J. Arrington and Ronald K. Esplin 
have somewhere noted, of the development in 1835 of the Quorum of the 
Twelve from a rather loosely organized group without specifically assigned 
roles to their grooming by the Prophet to assume administrative duties. 
For this purpose he kept the Twelve in council to such an extent that Helen 
noted, "Brother Joseph seemed unwilling to part with my father . . . and 
she [Vilate] felt nearly jealous of him. . . ."' 

For a season now Heber had no further missionary assignments. His 


new callings included the settling of emigrants, especially those from En- 
gland, and the distribution of church lands. (Nauvoo was growing fast. 
When Heber left on his second British mission there were not even thirty 
buildings in the community; when he returned he found 1,200 finished, 
many others under construction, and new converts coming in from vari- 
ous places.) Heber also became a chaplain with the rank of colonel of in- 
fantry in the Nauvoo Legion, a member of the city council, and a member 
of the board of regents of the nascent University of the City of Nauvoo. 

Almost since his arrival in Kirtland in 1833, Heber had been working 
full time for the church. His brick home in Nauvoo was built for him by 
the church, or at least by church members, and he occasionally received 
money and provisions from the church and generous Saints. There is evi- 
dence that he did some work as a potter in Nauvoo, and it is clear that he 
also bought and sold building sites from which he may have derived addi- 
tional income. Apparently he continued to support himself as well as he 
could, and the difference was made up out of general church funds. 

The rest of the winter passed quietly away, with Heber tending to 
many of the temporal affairs of Kingdom-building, and the spring of 1 842 
was full of strange and wonderful events. On March 9 he received his pa- 
triarchial blessing from Joseph's brother Hyrum. Such blessings, derived 
from Jacob's blessing of his twelve sons (Genesis 49), are believed to be 
inspired statements regarding the life mission of the recipient and are 
given by specially appointed patriarchs. Hyrum, laying hands on Heber's 
head, promised him, "You shall be blessed with a fulness and shall not be 
one whit behind the chiefest; as an Apostle you shall stand in the presence 
of God to judge the people; and as a Prophet you shall attain to the honor 
of the three [i.e., the First Presidency]." 2 This promise, which Heber be- 
lieved implicitly, gave him yet another glimpse of his future. It assured him 
of eventual success, steeled him against any crisis, and gave him complete 
confidence in himself, in his calling, and in the meaning and purpose of his 
existence. It goes far in explaining his total dedication to the Restoration. 

In April Heber had his first experience with phrenology, a pseudo- 
science based on the belief that the mind consists of a group of separate, 
localized faculties seated in particular areas of the brain and that their sep- 
arate development (or lack of it) can be determined by the shape of the 
skull (hence the reading of "bumps"). It was of Viennese origin and spread 
rapidly in the young Republic. This fad was only one of many reflecting 
the astonishing public interest of people of Heber's day in formulas for 
life, self-improvement, self-knowledge, and guidance — similar to the mid- 
twentieth-century interest in transcendental meditation, transactional 

New Experiences at Nanvoo 83 

analysis, psychocybernetics, self-fulfillment, moodswing, jogging, psy- 
chiatry, Freudian analysis, psychotherapy, chemotherapy, drugs, primal- 
scream therapy, and various types of group interaction. 

It was customary at that time for phrenologists to seek out special in- 
dividuals and give them readings, and by 1842 Mormon leaders in Nau- 
voo would have been fair game for any practitioner. Heber submitted to 
his first reading by A. Crane, M.S., "Professor of Phrenology/' 3 out of cu- 
riosity and politeness much as one might today allow some practitioner to 
read his palm. 

Crane's reading has been preserved, and it is an interesting curiosity. 4 
Phrenologists considered several character traits and rated people on a 
scale of one to ten. Heber scored tens in Amativeness (fondness for the 
other sex), Approbativeness (sensibility to reproach), Firmness, Imitation 
(the ability to imitate), Ideality (lively imagination), Mirthfulness, and 
Comparison (the ability to perceive and apply analogies). He scored nines 
in Secretiveness, Self-esteem, Benevolence, Conscientiousness, Construc- 
tiveness (mechanical ingenuity), Tune (musical taste and talent), Color 
(skill in comparing and arranging colors), Order, and Causality (the abil- 
ity to think and reason clearly). He scored low (fours and fives), in Inhab- 
itiveness (the ability to adjust to changes of place), Time (a sense of time), 
and Size (a sense of measurement). 

While we may dismiss phrenology rather quickly as an interesting but 
insignificant vogue, the real and imagined connections between Mormon- 
ism and Masonry which have fascinated scholars for years require more 
careful consideration. 5 

Heber, as already noted, became a Mason in 1825. He was, however, 
not the only "pre-Mormon" Mason in the church. Joseph Smith's brother 
Hyrum became a member of the Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112 at Pal- 
myra, New York, sometime in the 1820s. Of the thirty-three founding 
members of the Nauvoo Lodge, nearly all were Mormon. 6 Even though 
some of the bitterest anti-Mormons were Masons, Heber remained loyal 
to Masonry all his life and on occasion publicly praised the organization 
and its members. Of his original activities as a Mason he later wrote, "No 
man was admitted into a lodge in those days except he bore a good moral 
character, and was a man of steady habits; and a member would be sus- 
pended for getting drunk or any other immoral conduct. I wish that all 
men were Masons and would live up to their profession, then the world 
would be in a much better state than it is now."' 

On another occasion, when he was trying to free Joseph Smith from 
prison in Liberty, Missouri, several Masons were friendly to the prisoners 


and treated Heber with civility: "Generals Doniphan and Atchison and the 
tavernkeeper where 1 put up, and several of the foremost men, who be- 
longed to the Masonic fraternity." 8 As late as 1861 in the Great Basin he 
publicly announced that he was still true to his Masonic brethren. 9 He did 
not, however, join the Masonic lodge established in Utah by the federal 
troops at Camp Floyd (the Rocky Mountain Lodge, No. 205) or in Salt 
Lake City in the 1860s (the Mount Moriah and Wasatch lodges, for exam- 
ple). In fact Mormons were for years excluded by the Masons from joining 
these lodges, and they still are. 

It seems likely that among the reasons for Joseph Smith's acceptance 
of Masonry was the influence of men like his brother and Heber, the desire 
for some protection, community acceptance, and the theological and phil- 
osophical compatibility between the two systems. Mervin Hogan has spec- 
ulated convincingly about another reason for the Mormons' adoption of 
Masonry: that Mormons were encouraged to become Masons by non- 
Mormons interested in furthering their political ambitions in Illinois. 10 

On March 1 5 and 1 6, 1 842, Abraham Jonas, a Jewish Grand Master 
of the Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Illinois, 
organized the Nauvoo Lodge. "The lodge was organized . . . with forty 
members," Heber noted. "Joseph was made a Mason on the same Eve. 
Abraham Jonas was present and Acted as Master. First nite took the 1 and 
2 degree. The next night took the 3 degree." 11 

Heber served in the Nauvoo Lodge as a Junior Deacon, and by check- 
ing certain passwords and grips, was responsible for seeing that no "cow- 
ans and eavesdroppers," or non-Masons, were admitted to lodge meetings. 
He also carried messages from the Worshipful Master in the East to the 
Senior Warden in the West and elsewhere about the lodge as required. 

Five Mormon, or largely Mormon, Masonic lodges were established 
in the area: the Nauvoo, the Nye (named after Jonathan Nye, past Grand 
Master of Vermont), and the Helm (named after another Grand Master) 
lodges in Nauvoo proper, as well as the Rising Sun Lodge, No. 12, in 
Montrose, Iowa, and the Eagle Lodge in Keokuk, Iowa. 12 The lodge hall in 
Nauvoo was considered to be the best in the West. 

Eventually the Nauvoo and surrounding lodges had 1,492 members, 
including the First Presidency and most of the Twelve Apostles. Since at 
this time there were only 414 Masons in all the rest of the Illinois lodges 
combined, one may conclude two things: that Mormon Masonry was 
hardly elitist, and that non-Mormon Masons might have had reason to 
fear such a large preponderance of Mormons and to suspect that Mor- 
mons did not carefully choose and train their initiates. Hogan refers to 
Nauvoo Masonry as being "dazzlingly unorthodox," and the Nauvoo 

New Experiences at Naiwoo 85 

Lodge as a "degree mill under the cooperatively conniving administration 
of the three Grandmasters," especially Abraham Jonas, who wished to be 
elected to the Illinois legislature. H 

Heber thought he saw similarities between Masonic and Mormon rit- 
ual. In a letter to Parley Pratt, June 17, 1842, Heber revealed: 

We have received some pressious things through the Prophet on the 
preasthood that would cause your Soul to rejoice. I can not give them 
to you on paper fore they are not to be riten. So you must come and 
get them for your Self. We have organized a Lodge here of Masons 
since we obtained a Charter. That was in March. Since that thare was 
near two hundred been made masons. Br. Joseph and Sidny [Ridgon] 
was the first that was Received into the Lodg. All of the twelve apos- 
tles have become members Except Orson Pratt. He hangs back. He 
will wake up soon, thare is a similarity of preas Hood in Masonry. 
Bro. Joseph Ses Masonry was taken from preasthood but has become 
degenerated. But menny things are perfect. 14 

Later at a special conference in Salt Lake City on November 9, 1858, 
Heber explained further: "We have the true Masonry. The Masonry of to- 
day is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon 
and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have 
the real thing." 1S Heber seems to have felt that both Mormonism and Ma- 
sonry derived separately from ancient ceremonies connected with Sol- 
omon's temple, Masonry having changed from a religious to a fraternal 
orientation, preserving only the shadow of form without the original sub- 
stance. Both the ancient Solomonic form and substance were then revealed 
anew to Joseph Smith. 

Two months after Masonry was introduced in Nauvoo the first tem- 
ple ordinances were given to a selected few. Heber had participated fully in 
the limited preparatory ordinances of washings and anointings which had 
been administered in the Kirtland temple. In Nauvoo on May 4, 1842, 
however, Joseph introduced the full endowment ceremony. This has been 
described, in an official statement, as "a course of instruction during 
which covenants of devotion to the teachings and commandments of Jesus 
Christ are made. Those making these covenants are then expected to live 
exemplary lives and to teach the same sacred principles to their fam- 
ilies." 16 In addition, the Mormon temple experience prepares initiates 
(contingent on their personal and sustained worthiness) for the highest 
possible spiritual attainments after death. In short, the Mormon temple 
endowment ceremony is designed to help mankind find the greatest happi- 
ness in this life and exaltation in the life to come. 17 


To Mormons, temples are houses of the Lord where (and only where) 
a variety of special religious exercises may take place — ceremonial wash- 
ings, sealings, marriage for time and eternity, vicarious ordinances for the 
dead, and receipt of endowments. More sophisticated thinking about 
Mormon temples relates them not only to the temple at Jerusalem, but to 
many of the holy places of the ancient world, especially in Mesopotamia 
and Egypt, and to a host of other rituals which have been (and still are) 
practiced in many different times and places, rituals suggesting that there 
was at one time in antiquity a God-given Urtext which has come down to 
the present day in many more or less corrupt forms. To such thinkers the 
temple becomes a scale model of the universe, the one point on earth 
where men may establish contact with other worlds, a symbolic Holy 
Mountain where ritual drama regarding the creation of the world, the fall 
of man, and his redemption are didactically performed for initiates who 
thereby participate in the most holy of rites. 18 

To the Mormon, "going through the temple" is as close in this life as 
he can get to heaven. He goes through the first time for his own blessings, 
and thereafter, for the rest of his life, whether he goes through rarely, occa- 
sionally, or several times a day (and some do), he does so to secure these 
same blessings for those no longer in mortality, preferably for his dead kin. 
That is the reason why Mormons are such dedicated genealogists, why 
they have created the finest genealogical society in the world, and why they 
are systematically microfilming genealogical records all over the globe. 

On that May 4, six church leaders, including Heber Kimball, Brig- 
ham Young, and Willard Richards, participated in the first temple cere- 
mony, which was presented in the upper rooms of Joseph's brick store on 
Water Street. About two years later, both Heber and Vilate participated in 
other special ordinances. 19 It is clear that Masonry filled some basic needs 
for Heber in his pre-Mormon and Mormon years, that the temple cere- 
monies, once introduced, were incalculably more important to him, and 
that he himself gave no evidence of being disturbed by any similarities. 

Though some other Saints in Nauvoo obtained their endowments be- 
fore the top story of the temple was completed, most had to wait until the 
temple officially opened between December, 1845, and the beginning of 
the general exodus west in February, 1846. (See pp. 116— 19 for Heber's 
involvement in the Nauvoo temple.) 

At about this same time, during the summer of 1841, Heber was in- 
troduced to the doctrine of plural marriage, a doctrine which appears to 
have been revealed to Joseph Smith as early as 183 1 in Kirtland, but which 
was kept secret and not practiced (save for one or two possible instances in 

New Experiences at Nauvoo 87 

Ohio) until 1841, when Joseph, Heber, and a few others secretly married 
additional wives. 

It has long been common for non-Mormons to consider Joseph's 
teaching on plural marriage as a mere extension of the many radical re- 
ligious and social ideas of his time and place, which ranged from celibacy 
to free love. The young Republic seemed to produce a proliferation of those 
who found conventional marriage and sexual relationships unsatisfactory. 

Some, especially the Shakers and the Rappites, advocated celibacy. 
Others, such as John Noyes's Oneida group, resurrected some ideas of 
Reformation radicals regarding "spiritual wifery," a form of free love 
which taught that a spiritual affinity existed between certain men and 
women who could therefore properly unite without benefit of formal mar- 
riage. The more extreme, best represented by the later Victoria Woodhull, 
advocated free love with no constraints of any kind. The Mormon concept 
of plural marriage differed profoundly from these teachings. 

The 183 1 revelation was set down in writing and read before the 
Nauvoo High Council in July, 1843, but was not openly taught until 1852 
in Utah and not officially published until 1876. Prior to 1876 the Doctrine 
and Covenants contained in an appendix an 1835 statement on marriage 
specifying monogamy as the norm. The first part of this 183 1 revelation, 
known today as Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, explained 
that the Old Testament practice was ordained by God and gave Joseph "an 
appointment [to] restore all things. . . ." In Joseph's mind, the ^institu- 
tion of the Old Testament practice was necessary, a commandment, a part 
of his call to restore all things, in keeping with the "restitution of all 
things" referred to in Acts 3 : 21, and a vital part of the overall Restoration 
which he dared not omit regardless of how much it conflicted with nine- 
teenth-century American life. According to Heber's daughter Helen, a wife 
of Joseph Smith, Joseph put off the introduction of plural marriage as long 
as possible. He shrank from it for years "until the angel of the Lord threat- 
ened to slay him if he did not reveal and establish this celestial prin- 
ciple." 20 

The wording of the revelation gave the reason for plural marriage: 

If any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the 
first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are vir- 
gins, and have vowed to no other man, then he is justified. . . . And if 
he have ten virgins given unto him by this law ... he is justified . . . 
for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, ac- 
cording to my commandment, and ... for their exaltation in the eter- 
nal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work 
of my Father continued, that he may he glorified [italics added]. 


Not only did this lengthy revelation command and explain plural 
marriage, it contained the closely related law of "celestial marriage" 
which Mormons consider to be one of the greatest blessings that can come 
from righteousness. A celestial marriage, or a "temple marriage" as it is 
more commonly called, means that a couple is married or "sealed" to each 
other for "time and eternity," that they will be man and wife forever in the 
fullest sense, and that all children born of that union in this life and the 
next are likewise sealed to the parents. 

The traditional, neutered, winged, harp-playing-choir-singing-angel 
holds no place in Mormon thought. Mormons argue that love, as the most 
divine attribute of the human soul, will be as eternal as the soul itself. To 
the question "Whom shall we love?" the answer is "Everyone," and, as in 
life, some more than others — especially spouses and children. (One of 
Heber's saltier sons, Jonathan Golden, later remarked typically, when 
asked if he really loved his neighbor, "Hell yes, only I love some a damn 
sight more than others.") And to the question "How is it possible to prop- 
erly love more than one wife?" Heber would have said that it was as possi- 
ble as fully loving more than one child. 

The revelation continued: 

And again, verily 1 say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, 
which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is 
sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of Promise, by him who is 
anointed ... Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection, and shall 
inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all 
heights and depths . . . and they shall pass by the angels; and gods, 
which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things . . . and 
a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods 
. . . because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto 

In their defense of plural marriage, Mormons were always able to 
make good use of the Bible. There is simply nothing in the Old or New 
Testament forbidding polygamy (except, as has been wryly noted, the di- 
vine affirmation that "man cannot serve two masters ,, ). 2, Furthermore it is 
difficult to argue that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, and Solomon 
did not practice it — to say nothing of the hero Gideon, the judges Ibzan, 
Jair, and Abdon, Samuel's father Elkanah, the kings Saul, Ahab, Ashur, Re- 
hoboam (and all twenty-eight of his sons), and Abijah, the priest Jehoiada, 
and that poor fellow of whom Isaiah said, "In that day seven women shall 
take hold of [him] . . . saying ... let us be called by thy name, to take 

New Experiences at Nauvoo 89 

away our reproach. " Moreover, in biblical days men were expected to live 
a special law, the levirate, which obligated them to marry a dead brother's 
wife to "raise up seed" for the deceased. (Whether the living brother was 
married or not was unimportant; see Deuteronomy 25:5—10.) In one in- 
stance the Lord slew Onan because he refused to live this law (Genesis 

The Book of Mormon gives a more qualified sanction to polygamy 
than does the Bible. In it David and Solomon are held up as bad examples 
for having "had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable 
before me, saith the Lord . . ."; monogamy is stressed as the norm, "For 
there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and con- 
cubines he shall have none. . . ." But then followed the approbation of po- 
lygamy under special circumstances: "For if 1 will, saith the Lord of Hosts, 
raise up seed unto me, 1 will command my people; otherwise they shall 
hearken unto these things 11 (Jacob 2:24—30). 

Female defenders of plural marriage — and there were many out- 
spoken ones including Heber's daughter Helen — sometimes went beyond 
a scriptural defense and invoked what they thought was a law of nature. 
The sixth wife of Parley Pratt wrote: 

The morality of nature would teach a mother that during nature's 
process in the formation and growth of embryo man, her heart should 
be pure, her thoughts and affections chaste, her mind calm, her pas- 
sions without excitement; while her body should be invigorated with 
every exercise conducive to health and vigor; but by no means sub- 
jected to anything calculated to disturb, irritate, wear, or exhaust it of 
its functions. Not so with man. He has no such drawback upon his 
strength. It is his to move in wider sphere. If God shall count him 
worthy of an hundred fold in his life, of wives and children, and 
houses and lands and kindreds, he may even aspire to Patriarchal sov- 
ereignty to empire; to be like the prince or head of a tribe, or tribes 
. . .like Abraham " 22 

In her 1 882 booklet Plural Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph, 
considered to be the most thorough defense of polygamy from the view- 
point of a wife, Helen made another point in defense of plural marriage. 

I know that this system tends to promote and preserve social purity, 
and that this alone can remedy the great social evils of the present 
day. When lived up to as the Lord designed it should be, it will exalt 
the human family, and those who have entered into it with pure mo- 
tives and continue to practice it in righteousness can testify to the 
truth of these statements. 


She then added a purely practical vindication: 

There are real and tangible blessings enjoyed under this system which 
cannot be obtained in any other way. Not only can the cares and bur- 
dens be equally distributed among the members of the family, but 
they can assist one another in many ways, and if blessed with conge- 
nial natures and filled with the love of God, their souls will be ex- 
panded, and in the place of selfishness, patience and charity will find 
place in their hearts, driving therefrom all feelings of strife and dis- 
cord. 23 

It is unwise to push Old Testament parallels with the Mormon prac- 
tice of polygamy too far. While the overall purpose seems to have been the 
same — to raise up a large and righteous seed quickly — there were impor- 
tant differences. Jewish and non-Jewish society appeared to support and 
tolerate the practice. There is no biblical record of Jewish polygamists hav- 
ing been slandered or persecuted as were the Mormons. Old Testament 
polygamy appears to have been restricted generally to a few leaders, and 
there is no evidence that the common people were urged to practice it as 
was the case among the Mormons. Romantic love and female sexuality in 
polygamy seem to have been much more important to the ancient Jews 
than to nineteenth-century Mormons, for whom polygamy often seems to 
have been a religious chore with little romantic love. In the Old Testament 
each wife's conjugal rights were taken seriously, and we find many beauti- 
ful love stories about, for example, Jacob and Rachel, Shechem and Dinah, 
Sampson and the woman of Timnah, Rehoboam and Maacah, David and 
Bathsheba, and Adonijah and Abishag. Old Testament polygamy was 
more standardized and normalized than among the Mormons. There were 
long-standing rules and norms which were generally followed. Among the 
Mormons there was a condition of "normlessness. v ' 24 Lacking rules and a 
supportive society in and out of the church, Mormon polygamy seems to 
have been played mainly by ear, a situation which brought great criticism 
to the whole church. In time, of course, the Mormons would have evolved 
their own rules and norms, but they were not given that opportunity. 


i. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent^ vol. 10 (Aug. 15, 1 881), 42. 

2. O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 385. 

3. A second reading took place Sept. 20, 1843, at the famous Fowler Studio 
in Boston, run by Orson, Lorenzo, and Charlotte Fowler, leaders of the movement 
in the United States. A third occurred in 1853 in Utah. 

New Experiences at Nattvoo 91 

4. This chart is reprinted in O. F. Whitney, Life of He her C. Kimball, 3 18- 
10. The charts of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Wilford Woodruff were 
printed in the Nauvoo Wasp during July, 1842. Joseph Smith is said to have con- 
sidered phrenology a false science. William P. Mclntire Daybook, Brigham Young 
University Library. 

5. To date there is no satisfactory study of Mormonism and Masonry. Mer- 
vin Hogan has published a number of informative articles which are presently 
being compiled into a book. See, especially, Hogan, "Mormonism and Freemason- 
ry: The Illinois Episode," in Little Masonic Library, Book II (Richmond, Va.: 
Macoy Publishing, 1977), 267-326. See also Reed Durham, "Is There No Help 
for the Widow's Son?," paper read at the Mormon History Association Annual 
Meeting, Nauvoo, 111., Apr., 1974. Of the three older standard treatments, S. J. 
Goodwin, Mormonism and Masonry (Washington, D.C.: Masonic Service Asso- 
ciation of the United States, 1924); Anthony W. Ivins, The Relationship of li Mor- 
monisnr and Freemasonry (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1934); and E. Cecil 
McGavin, Mormonism and Masonry, 4th enlarged ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 
1956), the latter is the least vacuous and discursive. Ivins and McGavin knew al- 
most nothing about Masonry and Goodwin knew even less about Mormonism. 

6. Mervin B. Hogan, "Utah's Memorial to Free Masonry," Royal Arch Ma- 
son (Missouri ed.), vol. 1 1 (Fall, 1974), 199-204; Mervin B. Hogan, ed., Minutes 
ofNanvoo Lodge, U.D., December 29, 1 841 -May 6, 1842 (mimeographed, Salt 
Lake City, 1974); and Mervin B. Hogan, The Vital Statistics of Nauvoo Lodge 
(Des Moines, Iowa: Research Lodge No. 2, 1976), 5-7. 

7. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94b, part 2, 5, Church Archives. 

8. Ibid., 67. 

9. Journal of Discourses, vol. 9 (July 7, 1861), 128. 

10. Hogan, Vital Statistics, 19-20. 

11. H. C. Kimball, Journal 92, Apr. 10, 1845, Church Archives. 

12. John C. Reynolds, History of the M. W, Grand Lodge of Illinois . . . 
(Springfield, 111.: Masonic Trowel Office, J869), 192-202. 

13. Hogan, Vital Statistics, 2, 22. 

14. Parley P. Pratt Papers, Church Archives. Joseph Smith allegedly told his 
private secretary, "Freemasonry was the apostate endowment as sectarian religion 
was the apostate religion." Benjamin F. Johnson, My Lifes Review (Independence, 
Mo.: Zion's Press, 1947), 96. This argument is further strengthened by the fact 
that during the Nauvoo period neither apostates, like John C. Bennett and Increase 
Van Dusen (who were Mormons, Masons, and anti-Mormon writers), nor anti- 
Mormon Masonic officials ever accused Joseph Smith of stealing Masonic secrets 
and incorporating them into the endowment ceremony. 

In reference to the highly debated question of the origins and antiquity of the 
Masonic order (which in its present form dates from 1717 in London), it is inter- 
esting to note that the date on the cornerstone of the Nauvoo Masonic Hall is a.l. 
5843, which means Anno Lucis (in the year of light); reckoning the era from the 
creation of the world in 4000 B.C., a.l. 584 ^ then is the equivalent of a.d. 184^. 


15. Manuscript History of Brigham Young, unpublished, Nov. 13, 1858, 
Church Archives. 

16. The Washington Temple, a pamphlet published at the time of its dedica- 
tion in 1974. 

17. By way of explanation, Brigham Young once publicly defined the temple 
ordinances, or the receiving of one's endowments, as follows: "Your endowment is 
to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for 
you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of 
the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them 
the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain 
your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell." Journal of Discourses, vol. 2 
(Apr. 6, 1853), 31. 

18. See Hugh Nibley, What Is a Temple? The Idea of the Temple in History 
(Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Extension Publications, 1963). 

19. On Feb. 1, 1844, Heber and Vilate were anointed as a priest and priest- 
ess, and on Apr. 1 he received from Vilate the washing and anointing of his feet, 
head, and stomach "as Mary [sister of Lazarus] did Jesus that she might have a 
claim on him in the Resurrection." H. C. Kimball, Journal, Church Archives. (This 
idea comes from the fact that some Mormons once taught speculatively that Christ 
married Mary and Martha.) The author has discovered nothing else about this un- 
usual practice although it may in some way be connected with a temple marriage 
or perhaps with the second anointing (see below, p. 105). 

20. Helen Mar Whitney, Why We Practice Plural Marriage (Salt Lake City: 
Juvenile Instructor Office, 1884), 53. 

21. More seriously, some nineteenth-century ministers argued, rather unsuc- 
cessfully, that the marginal reading of Leviticus 18:18, "Neither shalt thou take 
one wife to another . . . beside the other in his lifetime," and Paul's statement in I 
Timothy 3 : 2, "A bishop then must be . . . the husband of one wife . . ." precluded 

22. Belinda Marden Pratt, "Defence of Polygamy by a Lady of Utah, in a Let- 
ter to Her Sister in New Hampshire," Jan. 1 2, 1854 (n.p.: Martin Mormon Pam- 
phlet Reprint Service, 1973). 

23. Helen Mar Whitney, Plural Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph 
(Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1882), 27. 

24. Eugene E. Campbell and Bruce L. Campbell, "Divorce Among Mormon 
Polygamists: Extent and Explanation," Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 46 (Winter, 
1978), 4-23. 


A Time of Testing 

During the summer of 1841, shortly after Heber's return from England, he 
was introduced to the doctrine of plural marriage directly through a star- 
tling test — a sacrifice that shook his very being and challenged his faith to 
the ultimate. He had already sacrificed homes, possessions, friends, rela- 
tives, all worldly rewards, peace, and tranquility for the Restoration. 
Nothing was left to place on the altar save his life, his children, and his 
wife. Then came the Abrahamic test. Joseph demanded for himself what to 
Heber was the unthinkable, his Vilate. Totally crushed spiritually and 
emotionally, Heber touched neither food nor water for three days and 
three nights and continually sought confirmation and comfort from God. 
On the evening of the third day, some kind of assurance came, and Heber 
took Vilate to the upper room of Joseph's store on Water Street. The 
Prophet wept at this act of faith, devotion, and obedience. Joseph had 
never intended to take Vilate. It was all a test. Heber had passed the or- 
deal, as had Vilate. How much she knew, however, of what was going on is 
not known. No reference of hers to the matter has been found. Then and 
there Joseph sealed their marriage for time and eternity, 1 perhaps the first 
sealing of this kind among the Mormons. 

During Heber's lifetime there were four types of marriage in the 
church. The first was a standard civil marriage for life. The second was a 
temple marriage for life, which differed from a civil marriage only in sol- 
emnity. The third was a temple marriage for eternity, sometimes referred 
to as "a sealing," a spiritual or "celestial" union or marriage. It could be 
performed between two living persons, two deceased persons, or between 
one living and one dead person. It could even be performed between two 
living persons one or both of whom had living spouses. Such a marriage, 
however, had no binding effect during their lifetimes on the two people 
who entered into it. It simply meant that they would be united in the world 



to come. The fourth type, the most important and today considered the 
ideal, was the temple (or celestial) marriage during mortality and in eter- 
nity. This marriage could be entered into only by two living persons and 
meant that their union was not "until death do ye part" but rather forever, 
in the fullest sense, both in this life and the next. (In wedding announce- 
ments modern Mormons look for some variant of the words "sealed for 
time and eternity in the . . . temple" much as Catholics watch for the 
phrase "fortified with Sacraments of Holy Mother Church" in obituaries 
— both expressions suggesting a happier afterlife to their adherents). Such 
a belief, even in conjugality in the next world, makes marriage a total com- 
mitment for most Mormons. Divorce is relatively rare, and Mormon men 
are constantly reminded to be good husbands and fathers. "No success in 
life can compensate for failure in the home" is a twentieth-century Mor- 
mon saying. 

Following the sealing, Joseph turned to Heber and said, "Brother 
Heber, take her and the Lord will give you a hundred fold." 2 The last part 
of this statement foreshadowed a further test. Sometime later it came — 
Heber was commanded to take another wife, and not merely to do it but 
to do it secretly — to betray his wife's confidence. Secrecy was the great 
problem in plural marriage. In Nauvoo plural marriage was never openly 
practiced, taught, or admitted. In fact, to prevent wholesale apostasy over 
such a radical doctrine, the teaching was not only kept secret but was of- 
ficially denied. A few knew about it and accepted it, a few opposed it, and 
most knew nothing about it. This, of course, led to many tales and rumors 
of seduction and adultery, which stirred up anti-Mormon sentiments, dis- 
turbed many faithful Mormons who had not been taught the doctrine, and 
embittered many in and out of the church against Joseph Smith. 

These tales, rumors, misrepresentations, charges, countercharges, de- 
nunciations, unauthorized acts by some Mormons, and denials became 
and have remained the stock-in-trade of many sensation-seeking writers. 
Had the doctrine been made public the reaction could hardly have been 
worse than it w r as. Joseph was placed in the position of being damned if he 
did and damned if he didn't admit to it. 

Heber appears to have been involved in only one such rumor, that of 
the Martha Brotherton affair. During July, 1842, Martha accused Heber 
of having been party to a "locked room" attempt to persuade her to be- 
come the plural wife of Brigham Young, and the charge spread far and 
wide. While Heber might well have interceded with her in Brigham's be- 
half, he vigorously denied having done anything improper. His statement 
is easy to believe, for he was very open in his affairs. He was in fact so 

A Time of Testing 9 5 

guileless that a study of his family life (see also chapters 20 and 2 1 ) offers a 
unique example of what plural marriage was really like and is a good anti- 
dote to the sensational and negative accounts of the practice. 

It is impossible to say how extensively plural marriage was practiced 
in Nauvoo, but in addition to Joseph Smith, Heber Kimball, and Brigham 
Young, at least nineteen others are known to have entered into it there. 
They were Ezra T. Benson, Gladden Bishop, William Clayton, Howard 
Egan, Thomas Grover, Orson Hyde, Benjamin F. Johnson, Joseph Bates 
Noble, Parley R Pratt, Willard Richards, Hyrum Smith, John Smith, Wil- 
liam Smith, Erastus Snow, Charles C. Rich, James J. Strang, John Taylor, 
and Lyman Wight as well as Edwin D. Woolley and Alpheus Cutler. 3 

When Helen's friend Sarah Ann Whitney became a plural wife of 
Joseph Smith, it was kept secret. Sarah Ann was not even permitted to tell 
her brother Horace, to whom she was very close and devoted. Horace 
soon thereafter took a trip east, and according to Helen (who later mar- 
ried Horace), "He had some slight suspicion that the stories about Joseph 
were not all without foundations, but had never told them, nor did he 
know the facts till after his return to Nauvoo, when Sarah hastened to tell 
him all. It was no small stumbling-block to him. . . ." 4 

There is no evidence that Mormon males ever welcomed the practice 
of plural marriage. Even the faithful Heber resisted. (He had, after all, 
read the 1835 statement in the Doctrine and Covenants stressing monog- 
amy.) In spite of his 1839 revelation that he would have "many sons and 
daughters" and that his posterity would "be as numerous as the sands 
upon the sea shore," 5 Joseph had to warn him that he could lose his apos- 
tleship and to command him three times to obey. 

Finally, in an effort to spare Vilate's feelings, Heber agreed early in 
1842 to marry one or perhaps two spinster sisters, Laura Pitkin (fifty-two 
years old) and Abigail Pitkin (forty-five), who were friends of Vilate. 6 
Joseph, however, commanded him to marry the thirty-one-year-old Sarah 
Peak (Noon), 7 an English convert with two young daughters, abandoned 
in Nauvoo by her husband when he returned to England. Heber complied. 
The date of the marriage is unknown, but it was early in 1842. Sarah and 
her daughters, of course, did not live with the Kimballs, but elsewhere in 
Nauvoo. The question about whether Sarah was legally divorced seems to 
have been of small importance. Some church leaders at that time consid- 
ered civil marriage by non-Mormon clergymen to be as unbinding as their 
baptisms. Some previous marriages, as was surely the case with Sarah, 
were annulled simply by ignoring them. There is no evidence that Sarah's 
husband ever knew or cared what happened to her. 


After the marriage, the awful secret weighed on Heber and, according 
to his daughter, 

My mother had noticed a change in his looks and appearance, and 
when she enquired the cause, he tried to evade her question, saying it 
was only her imagination, or that he was not feeling well, etc. But it so 
worked upon his mind that his anxious and haggard looks betrayed 
him daily and hourly, and finally his misery became so unbearable 
that it was impossible to control his feelings. He became sick in body, 
but his mental wretchedness was too great to allow of his retiring at 
night, and instead of going to bed he would walk the floor; and the 
agony of his mind was so terrible that he would wring his hands and 
weep, beseeching the Lord with his whole soul to be merciful and re- 
veal to his wife the cause of his great sorrow, for he himself could not 
break his vow of secrecy. His anguish and my mother's, were inde- 
scribable and when unable to endure it longer, she retired to her 
room, where with a broken and contrite heart, she poured out her 
grief to [God]. . . . 

Her mind was opened, and she saw the principle of Celestial mar- 
riage illustrated in all its beauty and glory, together with the great ex- 
altation and honor it would confer upon her in that immortal and ce- 
lestial sphere if she would but accept it and stand in her place by her 
husband's side. She was also shown the woman he had taken to wife, 
and contemplated with joy the vast and boundless love and union 
which this order would bring about, as well as the increase of king- 
doms, power, and glory extending throughout the eternities, worlds 
without end. . . . She returned to my father, saying, Heber, what you 
have kept from me the Lord has shown me. 

She related the scene to me and to many others, and told me she 
never saw so happy a man as father was, when she described the vi- 
sion and told him she was satisfied and knew that it was from God. 8 

However strange such an experience seems to twentieth-century 
minds, the record of Vilate's life to her death twenty-five years later in 
1867 adequately demonstrates that she firmly believed that she indeed had 
had such a revelation. Vilate knew of all Heber's plural marriages from 
then on, and she became and remained a staunch supporter of her hus- 
band and several of her children who also entered into the practice. 

Although such a vision of the celestial order was unusual if not 
unique, other women claimed to have received divine sanction of "the 
Principle." On June 27, 1843, Vilate wrote to Heber, who was on a mis- 
sion in Philadelphia at the time: 

I have had a visit from brother Parley [Pratt] and his wife, they are 
truly converted it appears that J[oseph] has taught him some princi- 

A Time of Testing 97 

pies and told him his privilege, and even appointed one for him. I dare 
not tell you who it is, you would be astonished and I guess some tried. 
She has been to me for council. I told her I did not wish to advise in 
such matters. Sister [Mary Ann] Pratt has been rageing against these 
things. She told me herself that the devil had been in her until within a 
few days past. She said the Lord had shown her it was all right. She 
wants Parley to go ahead, says she will do all in her power to help 
him; they are so ingagued I fear they will run to[o] fast. They ask me 
many questions on principle. I told them I did not know much and I 
rather they would go to those that had authority to teach. 9 

The woman about whom Vilate felt Heber "would be astonished" 
was Elizabeth Brotherton, the sister of Martha Brotherton, who, as noted 
above, had spread her unfavorable views of plural marriage. 

Lucy Walker, who first married Joseph Smith and, then after his 
death, became one of Heber's plural wives, felt she too had some sort of 
divine sanction. After she first refused Joseph Smith's proposal of mar- 
riage, he promised her a "manifestation of the will of God. ... it shall be 
that joy and peace that you never knew.'" l0 This manifestation came, and 
Lucy married Joseph on May 1, 1843. 

Not all to whom Joseph Smith confided the doctrine of plural mar- 
riage accepted it and passed this test of obedience as did Heber. Some men 
thought Joseph was trying to seduce their wives. One of Joseph's coun- 
selors, William Law, for example, apostatized and became a bitter enemy 
of Joseph, and Apostle Orson Pratt was rebellious for a season. Such tests 
gave rise to widespread rumors of seduction in Nauvoo and brought much 

Helen Kimball was only thirteen in 1842 when her father took a sec- 
ond wife. She suspected nothing, even when Sarah Peak had a child in De- 
cember, 1842, or January, 1843. "I had no knowledge then of the plural 
order," she later wrote, "and therefore remained ignorant of our rela- 
tionship to each other until after his [the infant's] death, as he only lived a 
few months. It's true I had noticed the great interest taken by my parents 
in behalf of Sister Noon [Peak] but ... I thought nothing strange of 
this." 11 

During the summer of 1 843 Heber decided to explain plural marriage 
to Helen, who was then nearly fifteen. Perhaps he was at that time think- 
ing of joining his house to the Prophet's through Helen. Helen later ex- 
plained that her father offered her to Joseph because of his "great desire to 
be connected with the Prophet." 12 In the early years of the church a loose 
form of "Mormon dynasticism" did evolve through such intermarriages 
among leading families. 1 * One afternoon Heber called Helen to him pri- 


vately. He explained the principle to her and asked if she would accept it. 
Disturbed and indignant, she answered that she wouldn't. Heber wisely 
did not push the issue. Later, after Joseph came to the Kimball home and 
explained the principle more fully, Helen accepted it and was sealed to 
Joseph. 14 

Many years later in Utah she wrote a retrospective poem about this 
marriage from which we learn that it was "for eternity alone," that is, un- 
consummated. Whatever such a marriage promised for the next world, it 
brought her no immediate earthly happiness. She saw herself as a "fetter'd 
bird" without youthful friends and a subject of slander.'* This poem also 
reveals that Joseph Smith's several pro forma marriages to the daughters 
of his friends were anything but sexual romps. Furthermore, the poem re- 
inforces the idea that, despite the trials of plurality in mortality, a "glori- 
ous crown" awaited the faithful and obedient in heaven. 

That same summer Heber went on another mission. In a effort to ease 
Helen's mind, he wrote from Pittsburgh, "My Dear Helen . . . You have 
been on my mind much since I left home, and also your dear mother, who 
has the first place in my heart. . . . My dear daughter, what shall I say to 
you? I will tell you, learn to be meek and gentle, and let your heart seek 
after wisdom. . . ." 16 

Helen did find wisdom, or at least she remained obedient. After the 
death of Joseph, her second husband also practiced plural marriage. Al- 
though she published two booklets, Plural Marriage as Taught by the 
Prophet Joseph (1882) and Why We Practice Plural Marriage (1884), a 
108-part series of "Life Incidents" in the Woman's Exponent (1880-86), 
and came to be regarded as a staunch advocate of plural marriage, she 
never alluded to her marriage to Joseph and made but two slight references 
to ever having lived "the principle" herself. Her personal affairs were not 
for the public. Once she said, "I have encouraged and sustained my hus- 
band in the celestial order of marriage because I knew it was right." On 
another occasion she wrote, "I have been a spectator and a participant in 
this order of matrimony for over thirty years . . . being a first wife. . . ." ]7 

Helen did, however, feel free to record some pertinent information 
about the much-debated question of Emma Smith's knowledge of and re- 
action to plural marriage: "He [Joseph] taught the principle to his wife, 
Emma, who humbly received it and gave to him three young women to 
wife, who had been living with her in her family, and had been like adopted 
daughters. Until she lost the spirit and her heart became hardened, they 
lived happily together. . . . Emma deceived her children and denied to ev- 
eryone that the Prophet had ever received a revelation on Celestial mar- 

A Time of Testing 99 

riage, or had ever practiced it; although she had heard the revelation and 
was eye witness to the marriage of the three wives above mentioned." ,8 

Although Heber was sealed to at least forty-three women before he 
died in 1868, he had children by only seventeen. There is little indication 
that he ever considered plural marriage as more than a chore, a religious 
responsibility for raising up a large family and providing for widows. The 
principle certainly did not contribute to domestic tranquility. Heber was 
not able to give his various wives equal attention and he appears to have 
been much less emotionally involved with his other plural wives than with 
Vilate. Many years later in 1893 one °f ms wives, by whom he had nine 
children, admitted that there was "not any love in the union between my- 
self and Kimball, and it is my business entirely whether there was any 
courtship or not." 19 

He did not act hastily or out of romantic inclination and did not take 
any other wives for two years after marrying his first plural wife. In his 
letters, journals, and discourses there are frequent references to V'late and 
her children, but seldom a mention of others in his family, which even- 
tually totaled at least 108 persons. It was always Vilate who remained the 
center of his emotional life. He frequently felt the necessity of trying to 
comfort her, to assure her that she was the first in his life, the love of his 
youth, and that no one could or would ever take her place. 

Shortly after entering his first plural marriage, Heber was on a mis- 
sion in Illinois. From Apple Creek 20 on October 16 he wrote Vilate. This 
letter is the earliest known record of how polygamy affected their relation- 
ship, and, surprisingly, it appears that the practice of plural and temple 
marriage brought them closer together. He had never before written any- 
thing so tender and romantic as "I dream about you most every night, but 
always feel disappointed for when 1 awake, behold it is a dream and I 
could cry if it would do me any good. 1 am quite a child some of the time." 
Or "You was speaking about if I had sent a kiss to you. I will send you 
several on the top of this page where those round marks are, no less than 
one dozen. [These tender symbols are still clearly discernible.] I had the 
pleasure of receiving those that you sent. I can tell you it is a pleasure in 
some degree, but when I come home 1 will try the lump itself." 21 

Nine days later, from Springfield, he wrote how he regretted the sor- 
row he had caused her: "1 never suffered more in all my life," he affirmed, 
"than since this thing came to pass." 22 At the time of this letter he had 
been gone from home less than five weeks and had never been more than 
100 miles from Nauvoo. Compared with previous separations, this 1842 


parting was nothing. The strain of the ordeal of obedience through which 
they had just passed offers an explanation for the tenderness of these and 
subsequent letters compared with the business-like travelogues written on 
his earlier missions. 

We learn further of their early adjustment to plurality from Vilate's 
letter, written that same October. "Our good friend S[arah Peak] is as 
ever," she wrote, and "we are one. You said I must tell you all my feelings; 
but if I were to tell you that I sometimes felt tempted and tried and feel as 
though my burden was greater than I could bear, it would only be a source 
of sorrow to you, and the Lord knows that I do not wish to add one sor- 
row to your heart, for be assured, my dear Heber, that I do not love you 
any the less for what has transpired neither do 1 believe that you do 
me " 23 

Sarah added a postscript to this letter, one of the few extant notes or 
letters from any of his other wives: 

My very dear friend: inasmuch as I have listened to your counsel 
hitherto 1 have been prospered, therefore, I hope that I shall ever ad- 
here to it strictly in the future. 

Your kind letter was joyfully received. I never read it but I received 
some comfort and feel strengthened and I thank you for it. You may 
depend upon my moving as soon as the house is ready. I feel anxious 
as I perceive my infirmities increasing daily. Your request with regard 
to Sister Kimball I will attend to. Nothing gives me more pleasure 
than to add to the happiness of my friends; I only wish that I had 
more ability to do so. I am very glad we are likely to see you so soon, 
and pray that nothing may occur to disappoint us. When you request 
Vilate to meet you, perhaps you forget that I shall then stand in 
jeopardy every hour, and would not have her absent for worlds. My 
mind is fixed and I am rather particular, but still, for your comfort, I 
will submit. I am as ever. 

Some of her comments are more meaningful when it is known that 
both Sarah and Vilate were then about seven months pregnant. Heber had 
hardly adjusted to the realities of multiple pregnancies or he certainly 
would not have asked Vilate to join him. Sarah shows spunk in her hon- 
esty to Heber, and for whatever reason, Vilate did not leave her to join 
him. The letter also suggests considerable harmony between Sarah and 

In 1843, while her husband was on another mission, Vilate rather 
anxiously wrote, "Let your heart be comforted and if you never more be- 
hold my face in time let this be my last covenant and testimony unto you 

A Time of Testing 101 

that I am yours in time and throughout all eternity. This blessing has been 
sealed upon us by the Holy Spirit of promise, and cannot be broken only 
through transgression, . . ," 24 In response Heber, instinctively knowing 
what Vilate wanted to read, reaffirmed that she was the love of his youth, 
and his first and best love for time and eternity — exactly what a first wife 
in plurality would need to be told. 25 

Sometimes Vilate wrote poems to her husband. In the midst of the 
harsh winter of 1846-47 at Winter Quarters, when living among at least 
twenty of Heber's other wives — several under her own roof — she could 

No being round the spacious earth 
Beneath the vaulted arch of heaven 
Divides my love, or draws it thence 
From him to whom my heart is given, 

Like the frail ivy to the oak 
Drawn closer by the tempest riven 
Through sorrows flood he'll bear me up 
And light with smiles my way to heaven. 

The gift was on the altar laid 
The plighted vow on earth was given 
The seal eternal has been made 
And by his side I'll reign in heaven. 26 

Although plural marriage is not mentioned here, several ideas that were 
part of the developing Mormon theology are poetically expressed: the 
eternal duration of marriage, the necessity of trials and sacrifice during the 
earthly existence, and the promise of a future "reign" in heaven. 

The last known written affirmation of Heber's special love for Vilate 
dates from 1849 in Utah, when he explained plaintively and candidly 
what, to him at least, plural marriage was all, about: "No one can super- 
cede you . . . every son and daughter that is brought forth by the wives 
that are given to me will add to your glory as much as it will to them. They 
are given to me for this purpose and for no other. . . . What 1 have done 
has been done by stolen moments for the purpose to save your feelings and 
that alone on the account of the love I have for You. I beg you to consider 
my case as you cannot do the work that God has required of me. . . ," 2 " 
Whether Heber likewise reassured his plural wives of his love for them or 
their place in the grand scheme of things we do not know. Secrecy, if 
nothing else, dictated extreme caution. Heber may have said or written 


many kind and comforting things to his other wives, but he does seem to 
have considered them as "friends." In one of his rare letters to other wives 
(written in 1855 from Fillmore when he was attending the territorial legis- 
lature) he wrote to Ann and Amanda Gheen, Lucy Walker, and Sarah Ann 
Whitney, wives with whom he had already had eleven children and would 
have fourteen more, "Now my dear friend Ann ... I can say God bless 
Ann, Lucy, Amanda, Sarah Ann. ... I do feel verry kind and tender in my 
heart toards you all. 1 have not but good in my heart toards you all. ... I 
shall give my heart and feelings to my friends for thare reflections, for I do 
love my friends. I do consider you all of that cast." 

He closed this letter in an equally friendly manner. "Now this letter is 
for Ann, Amanda, Lucy, Sarah Ann and fore my fine little men and Ladies 
that Live with you. God bless you all in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 
From your servant H. C. Kimball." 2S 

These early letters and many documents of the Utah period clearly 
indicate the emotional stress, strain, and challenge that this Old Testament 
social order caused in nineteenth-century America. It is remarkable that it 
worked as well as it did. From the beginning Heber remained not only a 
puritanical but also a reluctant polygamist. The sophisticated world, of 
course, does not allow for such a thing as a "puritanical" or "reluctant" 
polygamist; to them it appears to be a hypocritical contradictio in adjecto. 
Even so Heber was one. His devotion to Vilate and her total support of 
him were even noted by travelers in Utah. A later traveler to Utah com- 
mented that Heber was very sociable, had a "harem of twenty-five to 
thirty," but, "strange to say, has continued to treat his real wife (so the 
story goes) as superior to the rest." 29 Another visitor reported that Heber 
acknowledged that Vilate w T as his counselor and right-hand helper. "In- 
deed," the visitor declared, "I am half inclined to think that she embraced 
Mormonism more than her husband . . . she was unmistakenly his favor- 
ite." 30 Still another traveler noted that Vilate was "the wife to whom he 
most deferred, and in whose wisdom he had the most implicit confidence." 
This same traveler found that easy enough to believe but he was "nearly 
staggered" when he heard "that in plain terms, he was her convert to the 
. . . dogma of polygamy. . . . Paradoxical as this assertion may be, I have 
repeatedly heard it made among Mormons, never with the faintest hint at 
a denial." J1 

"Dutiful" best describes his relationships with his other wives. Cer- 
tainly the circumstances of his marriages hardly suggest romance. He was 
pressed into his first plural union and procrastinated over all subsequent 
ones — marrying most of his wives either immediately prior to the en- 

A Time of Testing 103 

forced exodus from Nauvoo or during the intense Mormon Reformation 
of 1856-57. 

Polygamy certainly never brought Heber domestic bliss; rather it cre- 
ated many familial problems. Few Mormons had anywhere near the num- 
ber of wives he did; only his fervent dedication caused him to take so 
many. More than four-fifths of married Mormon males were monoga- 
mists, and most polygamists had but two wives. u Heber was no more a 
typical polygamist in Utah than David and Solomon were in Judea. 

Rumors concerning the practice of plural marriage continued to cir- 
culate in Nauvoo. Among those who sought to make both trouble and 
money out of the question of polygamy was John C. Bennett, one-time 
counselor to Joseph Smith and mayor of Nauvoo, who had been excom- 
municated in May, 1842, for immorality. That same year he gave some 
anti-Mormon lectures and published a series of anti-Mormon articles in 
the Springfield, Illinois, Sangamon journal which were enlarged and pub- 
lished that same year in Boston in book form as The History of the Saints: 
or, An Expose of Joe Smith and Mormonism — a 344-page melange of 
every kind of charge against the Mormons. 

To offset Bennett's writings and lectures, scores of Elders were called 
during the fall of 1842 to travel throughout the country refuting Bennett's 
charges. Heber Kimball and Brigham Young made a three-month preach- 
ing tour to "southern" Illinois, to Lima, Quincy, Payson, Atlas, Pittsfield, 
Glasgow, Apple Creek, Jacksonville, Springfield, and Morgan City. How 
Heber answered Bennett's charges of polygamy is not known, but with 
two pregnant wives in Nauvoo it would have been awkward for him to 
deny it or argue that it existed only in a spiritual sense. He felt good about 
their missionary efforts. Most of their meetings were well attended. They 
baptized twelve in Lima, and Governor Thomas Carlin of Illinois attended 
the meeting in Quincy. In Atlas, Mrs. William Ross, who had cared for 
Vilate after the Missouri expulsion, permitted them to preach in her home. 
They arrived back safely on November 4, 1842. 

Heber remained at home in Nauvoo for the next seven months, dur- 
ing which time Vilate had a new son, Charles Spaulding, born January 2, 
1843; as was note d earlier, near that same time Sarah also had a son, who 
lived only about nine months. 

Later that same winter Heber was instrumental in organizing the 
Young Gentlemen and Ladies Relief Society of Nauvoo. One evening in 
January, 1843, a g rou P °f young people visited the Kimball home. 'The 
company," reported the Times and Seasons, "were lamenting the loose 


style of the morals, the frivolous manner in which they spent their time." 
Heber, realizing a golden opportunity, offered to give them some instruc- 
tion. At subsequent meetings he addressed them "upon the duties of chil- 
dren to their parents, to society and to their God," and encouraged them 
to apply "their minds with determined perseverance to all the studies com- 
monly deemed necessary to fit them for active life and polish them for so- 
ciety," and to acquit themselves like men and women of God. 33 Eventually 
on March 21 the society was formed with a constitution and officers. Why 
Heber should have played such a central role in this first instance of a 
Mormon youth organization is not immediately apparent. Probably his 
open, animated personality and obvious commitment to the cause ap- 
pealed to the Nauvoo teenagers. 

At the April, 1843, conference he was appointed to go on a mission to 
the eastern states, to preach the Gospel and to collect tithing. He left Nau- 
voo June 10, 1843, on this seventh mission, and returned four months 
later. Apparently the first part of this trip was turned into a small family 
vacation, for he noted in his journal, "This day I left my home at Nauvoo 
in company with my wife and fore of my children, [and] Sister [Sarah 
Peak] Noon. . . . On the nth preached at Lima. On the 12th reached 
Quincy. I had a preshus time with my dear wife." 34 Going on alone he vis- 
ited St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. On 
this mission he and his companion, George Smith, had occasion to travel 
on the Mainline Canal between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. While Heber 
was atop the boat observing the scenery, about a dozen Baptist ministers, 
returning from a conference, cornered George in the main cabin and were 
very abusive of him and his faith. After a while Heber went back to the 
cabin in time to come to his companion's aid. He began by announcing 
that he had been a Baptist himself once for three weeks, but at that time, 
he recalled, Baptist ministers had been gentlemen. After putting the tor- 
mentors in their place he then proceeded to bait them by quoting as scrip- 
ture things he knew were not in the Bible. When the Baptists challenged 
him he gravely turned to George and said, "Will you find that passage?" 
As George pretended to search, the ministers, to save face, suddenly re- 
membered the passages." 35 

During this absence he and Vilate exchanged seven letters. Two (al- 
ready noted) are very tender and reinforce their mutual love. In other let- 
ters he told of a healing in Cincinnati, of his suffering with the "cholera 
morbus" (gastroenteritis), influenza, and a bowel complaint, of how kind 
people in general had been, how he missed his family, that he needed their 
prayers, and that he had not been very successful in raising funds. He also 
had bought some clothes for the family. One member of the church, he 

A Time of Testing 105 

told Vilate, wanted to know if she was "very dressy," to which Heber re- 
plied "quite so." He also told Vilate that he was getting her something out 
of black silk, and then prudently added that she should keep this to her- 
self — it would be just as well that Sarah, his other wife, didn't know about 
the new gowns. 36 

He arrived back in Nauvoo safely four months later, on October 22, 
and turned over what moneys he had to Joseph Smith. Heber now had 
another seven months at home before being called on his eighth and last 
mission. "I remained in Nauvoo all winter," he related, "enjoying the 
teachings of the Prophet, attending councils, prayer meetings . . . preach- 
ing in Nauvoo and Branches round about, and doing all I could to 
strengthen the hands of the First Presidency." 37 

That December Joseph permitted a few of his most faithful followers, 
those who had proven themselves in many ways, to receive their second 
anointing or endowment in the temple. Among those so honored were 
Heber Kimball, Brigham Young, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, Willard Rich- 
ards, Wilford Woodruff, and their first wives. 38 When Heber and Vilate 
had originally received their temple endowments during May, 1842, all of 
their blessings were conditional. Through the second anointing their bless- 
ings were no longer conditional, but actual (although they were not to be 
effected, for the most part, until the next life). This unusual doctrine ap- 
pears to be connected with Peter's admonition "to make your calling and 
election sure" (2 Peter 1 : 10). 

That same winter there were also plenty of parties, balls, and con- 
certs. Plays, in which members of the Kimball family participated, were 
presented in the Masonic Hall. The first drama, in fact the inauguration of 
theatre among the Mormons, presented April 24, 1844, as a project to 
raise money to help Joseph Smith pay off his Missouri debts, was Pizarro 
or the Death of Rolla. Written by the German playwright Augustus von 
Kotzebue, and titled Die Spanier in Peru oder Rollas Tod, the play had 
been popular in Europe, England, and America for nearly fifty years be- 
fore it was produced in Nauvoo. 39 

Brigham Young played the High Priest, a nonspeaking but important 
part. A "Mr. Kimball" was one of the nine Spaniards (spear carriers) in the 
play. 40 It is most unlikely that this was Heber, but possibly it was his son 
William, then nineteen years old. Even Heber's sixteen-year-old daughter, 
Helen, despite the generally low opinion of females in the theatre at that 
time, played one of the chorus of virgins in the production. Since Joseph 
Smith considered the theatre to be good and useful, all Mormons have felt 
free to enjoy it and practice its art. The same amateur company produced 
several other dramas that season, one of which was the Orphan of Ge- 


neva, in which Helen was called upon at the last moment to substitute as 
the Countess. And thus passed a relatively peaceful winter. 

Politics were also much discussed in Nauvoo in 1844, an election 
year. The Mormons debated about whether to support the Democrat, ex- 
president Martin Van Buren, or the Whig, Henry Clay, the "Great Com- 
promiser," for president. Both candidates had refused to do anything to 
help the Mormons secure redress for Missouri's wrongs. Out of this di- 
lemma came a proposal to establish an independent electoral ticket and 
nominate Joseph Smith as a candidate for the presidency. This was done at 
the annual April conference, and on May 17, a convention was held in 
Nauvoo at which Heber and 343 Elders were appointed to go through the 
states and present the name of Joseph Smith and his views on the powers 
and policies of government in the United States. Naturally, Heber was in 
the middle of these discussions and, as one of the church's seasoned 
preachers, participated in the electioneering campaign. 

In May he left to stump for Joseph and to petition in Washington, 
D.C., for help in securing justice from Missouri. Helen, William, and Vi- 
late accompanied him to the steamer Osprey for his overnight trip to St. 
Louis. It was understood that Vilate should later meet him in Philadelphia 
and that Helen would come too if possible. "Come with your ma if you 
can," he told Helen at the wharf, "but I beg you not to stand in the way of 
her coming, but do all you can to help her off." 41 

During his layover between vessels in St. Louis, Heber sent some sup- 
plies to his family, recording the following purchases in his journal: 42 

24 P[ounds] of Chugar 


1 5 P Coffee 


4 Pounds of rasons 


Vz half bushel of aples 


8 Pounds of lump chugar 

1. 00 

15 Pounds of chugar 

1. 00 

4 P of solaratus [saleratus, 


soda] .40 

Vz Pound of Tea 


One Quarter [pound] nutmeg 


One Pound of nuts 


One dozen of Lemmons 


2 Packs nives fore boys 


On June 3 under some potted palms in the foyer of the National Hotel 
in Washington, D.C., Congressman Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois called 
on Heber. "Ses he will do anny thing fore us that we wish," Heber wrote 

A Time of Testing 107 

home. "He ses he will give me an introduction to sevrel of the Congress- 
men. To day he ses thare is no prjudis of anny acount toards us in this 
place. He ses all thare is is among the ignerant class." 41 Douglas, however, 
was merely being polite. Nothing came of Heber's visit and petition. 

Heber's last letters home are full of indignation at Washington's indif- 
ference. "We will," he wrote portentously to Helen, "go where we can find 
a home and worship God in his own way and enjoy our rights as free cit- 
izens, and it will not be long. Now my daughter 1 have spoken plain to you 
. . . you must not show this letter to anny but our family." 44 Little good 
came from this mission. At the same time much more important personal 
and political events were taking place back home in Nauvoo. Vilate's let- 
ters enable us to relive some of that excitement and tragedy. 

She wrote that Sarah was sick with a "nervous headache," and that 
she herself had an upset stomach and could not eat much, and that "I am 
so sick and faint that I cannot set up a good deal of the time. . . . There is 
cause for this," she added, "which cause you will no doubt rejoice in. A 
hint to you is sufficient." 45 Seven months later, January 2.9, 1845, her sixth 
son, Brigham Willard, was born. 

Of vaster significance to the community, and thus to the Kimballs, 
was the explosive Expositor affair. Several disaffected Mormons set up an 
opposition newspaper, the Nauvoo Expositor^ and succeeded in printing 
one issue, that of June 7, 1844. The editors declared "many items of [Mor- 
mon] doctrine . . . heretical and damnable" and sought "to explode the 
vicious principles of Joseph Smith." Joseph and most church leaders were 
outraged and the marshal was ordered to destroy the printing press, scat- 
ter the type, and burn all the copies of the Expositor he could find. Such 
interference with the freedom of the press created a sensation and was the 
beginning of the end of Nauvoo. 

Vilate reported this to Heber and said that Joseph had written letters 
to all the Twelve advising them to return to Nauvoo as quickly as possible, 
and guessed she would have to give up her trip to the East. (That was her 
last chance: she never did return to her people in Victor.) Vilate reported 
that troops looking for Joseph had been sent by Governor Thomas Ford to 
Nauvoo, and that Joseph had fled across the river to Montrose, Iowa, leav- 
ing word for the brethren to hang on to their arms and take care of them- 
selves as best they could. "Some were tried, almost to death," she added, 
"to think Joseph should leave them in the hour of danger. ... I have not 
felt frightened . . . neither has my heart sunk within me, until yesterday, 
when 1 heard Joseph had sent word back for his family to follow him." 4 
Vilate's fears were shared by many Latter-day Saints. 


The traditional account of why Joseph Smith gave up freedom in 
Iowa and took instead the road to Carthage and martyrdom is that he 
gave in to taunts of cowardice and the requests of his family to return. His 
utterance "If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of none to myself" is 
famous. 47 This may all be true, but a letter of Vilate's suggests a much 
more important reason, and expresses the feelings of the Saints for their 
Prophet as well as their fears for the future: "Joseph went over the river 
out of the United States, and there stopped and composed his mind, and 
got the will of the Lord concerning him, and that was, that he should re- 
turn and give himself up for trial. . . . They have just passed by here. . . . 
My heart said Lord bless those dear men, and preserve them from those 
that thirst for their blood. Their giving themselves up, is all that will save 
our city from destruction. . . ." 4S 

At about twenty-one minutes past four on the afternoon of June 27, 
Joseph and Hyrum Smith, in the Carthage jail awaiting trial, were mur- 
dered by an anti-Mormon mob. Three days later Vilate wrote to Heber: 

Never before did I take up my pen to address you under so trying 
circumstances as we are now placed, but as Mr. Adams the bearer of 
this can tell you more than I can write, I shall not attempt to describe 
the scene that we have passed through. God forbid that I should ever 
witness another like unto it. I saw the lifeless corpse[s] of our beloved 
brethren when they were brought to their almost distracted families. 
Yes, I witnessed their tears, and groans, which was enough to rend the 
heart of an adamant. Every brother and sister that witnessed the scene 
felt deeply to sympathize with them. Yea, every heart is filled with 
sorrow, and the very streets of Nauvoo seem to mourn. Where it will 
end the Lord only knows. We are kept awake night after night by the 
alarm of mobs. Those apostates say, their damnation is sealed, their 
die is cast, their doom is fixed and they are determined to do all in 
their power to have revenge. [William] Law says he wants nine more, 
that was in his quorum. Some times I am afraid he will get them. I 
have no doubt but you are one. . . . 

I have felt opposed to their sending for you to come home at pres- 
ent. ... I have no doubt but your life will be sought, but may the 
Lord give you wisdom to escape their hands. 49 

On the day of the assassination, Heber was traveling from Phila- 
delphia to New York and unaccountably felt very sorrowful and depressed 
in spirit. It was not until July 9, however, while in Salem, Massachusetts, 
that he first learned of the murders. "The papers were full of News of the 
death of our Prophet," he confided in his journal. "I was not willen to be- 
lieve it. Fore it was to[o] much to bare. ... It struck me at the heart." 50 

A Time of Testing 109 

From Salem, along with Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Wilford Wood- 
ruff, and Lyman Wight, Heber started the sad return to Nauvoo. 


1. This information comes from James Lawson, a son-in-law of Heber, who 
told the story to O. F. Whitney. See O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 

2. Ibid., 440. 

3. See Danel W. Bachman, "A Study of the Mormon Practice of Plural Mar- 
riage before the Death of Joseph Smith" (unpublished M.A. thesis, Purdue Univer- 
sity, 1975). 

4. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 11 (Mar. 1, 1883), 146. 

5. See above, p. 62. 

6. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 10 (Oct. 15, 1881), 74. 

7. For consistency and simplicity throughout this study Heber's wives are al- 
ways referred to by their maiden names. Where necessary their married names will 
be added in parentheses. 

8. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 10 (Oct. 15, 1881), 74. 

9. Original letter in possession of Spencer W Kimball. Used by permission. 

10. "Statement of Mrs. L. W. Kimball," typescript, 5, Lucy Walker Kimball 
Papers, Church Archives. 

11. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol, 11 (July 11, 1882.), 26. 

12. Helen Mar Kimball Smith Whitney [to her children], Mar. 30, 188 1, 
Helen Mar Whitney Papers, Church Archives. 

13. Dennis Michael Quinn, "Organizational Development and Social Ori- 
gins of the Mormon Hierarchy, 183 2.- 193 2: A Prosopographical Study" (un- 
published M.A. thesis, University of Utah, 1973). 

14. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. n (Aug. 1, 1882), 39. 

15. Helen Mar Kimball Smith Whitney [to her children], Mar. 30, j88i, 
Helen Mar Whitney Papers, Church Archives. The full poem reads as follows: 

1 thought through this life my time will be my own 
The step 1 now am taking's for eternity alone, 
No one need be the wiser, through time I shall be free, 
And as the past hath been the future still will be. 

To my guileless heart all free from worldly care 
And full of blissful hopes — and youthful visions rare 
The world seemed bright the thref ning clouds were kept 
From sight and all looked fair but pitying angels wept. 

Then saw my youthful friends grow shy and cold, 

And poisonous darts from sland'rous tongues were hurled, 


Untutor'd heart in thy gen'rous sacrifice, 

Thou did'st not weigh the cost nor know the bitter price; 

Thy happy dreems all o'er thou' it doom'd alas to be 
Barr'd out from social scenes by this thy destiny, 
And o're thy sad'nd mem'ries of sweet departed joys 
Thy sicken'd heart will brood and imagine future woes, 

And like a fetter'd bird with wild and longing heart, 
Thou'lt dayly pine for freedom and murmor at thy lot; 
But could'st thou see the future &: view that glorious crown, 
Awaiting you in Heaven you would not weep nor mourn. 

Pure and exalted was thy father's aim, he saw 

A glory in obeying This high celestial law, 

For to thousands who've died without the light 

T'will bring eternal joy & make thy crown more bright. 

I'd been taught to revere the Prophet of God 
And receive every word as the word of the Lord, 
But had this not come through my dear fathers' mouth, 
I should ne'r have received it as Gods' sacred truth. 

16. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 11 (Aug. 1, 1882), 39. 

17. See Augusta Joyce Crocheron, Representative Women of Deseret (Salt 
Lake City: J. C. Graham, 1884), 114, and H. M. Whitney, Plural Marriage as 
Taught by the Prophet Joseph, 27. 

18. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 11 (Aug. 1, 1882), 39. 

19. Testimony of Lucy W. Kimball as cited in the Abstract of Evidence, [In- 
dependence] Temple Lot Case, Circuit Court of the United States (Lamoni, Iowa: 
Herald Publishing House, 1893), vol. 2, 375. 

20. A now-defunct community in Green County. It may have been on the 
Illinois River. 

21. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Oct. 16, 1842, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

22. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 1 1 (July 15, 1882), 26. 

23. Ibid., vol. 11 (June 1, 1882), 1-2. 

24. Vilate Kimball to H. C. Kimball, June 8, 1843, m H. C. Kimball, Journal 
91, Church Archives. 

25. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Sept. 3, 1843. Original in possession of 
J. Leroy Kimball. Used by permission. 

26. H. C. Kimball, Journal 91, following Jan. 17, 1847, Church Archives. 

27. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Feb. 12, 1849. Original in possession of 
Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission. 

28. H. C. Kimball to Ann, Lucy, Amanda, and Sarah Ann, Dec. 31, 1855. 
Original in possession of Mrs. Kenneth Huffman. Used by permission. In this same 

A Time of Testing 1 1 1 

letter, he wrote, "Some say they do not want anny more children that is all rite as 
far as I am concerned." Were these wives tired of him, the children, or both? 

29. Mrs. B. G. Ferris, The Mormons at Home with Some Incidents of Travel 
from Missouri to California, 1851-5} (1856; reprinted New York: AMS Press, 

i97i), J57* 

30. Fitz Hugh Ludlow, "Among the Mormons," Sharpes London Magazine, 

vol. 33 (1869), 32-33. 

3 1 . Ludlow, The Heart of the Continent, 3 1 1 - 1 2. 

32. See Stanley S. Ivins, "Notes on Mormon Polygamy/' Western Humanities 
Review, vol. 10 (Summer, 1956), 229-39. 

33. Times and Seasons, Apr. 1, 1843. 

34. H. C. Kimball, Journal 91, June 10, 1843, Church Archives. 

35. Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1801-1844, 153. 

36. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Sept. 3, 1843. Original in possession of 
J. Leroy Kimball. Used by permission. 

37. Deseret News, "Synopsis," Apr. 28, 1858. 

38. Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young: 1801-18 44, 

39. The first English adaptation was made in 1800 by the great English 
dramatist Richard Sheridan. (Later William Dunlap, the "father of American the- 
atre," made an American adaptation.) It is a sentimental, bombastic, pretentious, 
and turgid piece regarding the tragic fate of the Incas (led by Rolla) in defending 
their king, country, religion, and lives against the rapacious Spanish Conquistador, 
Pizarro. Despite its shortcomings as literature, it was good theatre and often pro- 
duced throughout the nineteenth century. 

40. See Stanley B. Kimball, "Pizarro: A Lost Play Bill," The Ensign (Oct., 

*975)> 5 J -52.. 

41. H. M. Whitney, Womans Exponent, vol. 11 (Dec. 1, 1882), 98. 

42. H. C. Kimball, Journal, May 22, 1844, Church Archives. 

43. H. C. Kimball to William Kimball, June 3, 1844. Original in possession 
of J. Leroy Kimball. Used by permission. 

44. H. C. Kimball to Helen Kimball, June 9, 1844. Original in possession of 
Spencer W Kimball. Used by permission. 

45. Vilate Kimball to H. C. Kimball, June 9, 1844. Original in possession of 
Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission. 

46. Ibid. 

47. Roberts, ed., History of the Church, vol. 6, 549. Another of Kimball's 
wives commented on Joseph's return. According to Lucy Walker (who was married 
to Joseph at the time), he said, "1 have the promise of life for five years, if I listen to 
the voice of the spirit." But when Flmma and some of the brethren besought him to 
return, he said, "If my life is worth nothing to you it is worth nothing to me." She 
then added, I have often heard him say he expected to seal his testimony with his 
blood." "Statement of Mrs. L. W. Kimball," p. 4, Church Archives. 


48. Vilate Kimball to H. C Kimball, June 9, 1844, ^ rom tnat P art °f tne * et " 
ter written June 24. Original in possession of Spencer W. Kimball. Used by per- 

49. Vilate Kimball to H. C. Kimball, June 30, 1844. Original in possession of 
J. Leroy Kimball. Used by permission. 

50. H. C. Kimball, Journal, July 9, 1844, Church Archives. 


Preparations for the Exodus 

Back in Nauvoo on August 6, 1844, Heber and his fellow Apostles found 
Sidney Rigdon, the only surviving member of the First Presidency, claim- 
ing leadership. Rigdon, after a falling-out with Joseph, had been living in 
Pittsburgh for the past several years. As soon as he learned of Joseph's and 
Hyrum's deaths he hurried to Nauvoo and presented himself as the 
"guardian" of the church. Wanting to act immediately, before the Quorum 
of the Twelve could be assembled, he prevailed upon William Marks, Pres- 
ident of the Nauvoo Stake, to call a meeting. This was opposed by the four 
Apostles who were in Nauvoo — John Taylor, George A. Smith, Parley P. 
Pratt, and Willard Richards — who delayed action until the other Apostles 
in the East arrived. It was not until August 7, in a special meeting in the 
Seventies' Hall, that Rigdon was able to present his claims before the 
Quorum of the Twelve, the Nauvoo Stake High Council, the President of 
the Stake, and the High Priests. No action was taken that day. On the fol- 
lowing morning a general conference was convened in the grove near the 
temple (there never was a chapel in Nauvoo) to give Rigdon the oppor- 
tunity of laying his claim before the whole church. Rigdon argued that he 
was the only living member of the First Presidency and that in 1 83 3 he had 
been appointed and ordained as a spokesman for Joseph Smith. 

That afternoon Brigham Young addressed the gathering. Rigdon's 
spokesmanship ended with the death of Joseph, Brigham said, and, citing 
Joseph's letter of January, 1839, to Heber and himself, insisted that all of 
Joseph's keys and powers had devolved upon the Quorum of the Twelve. 
While he was speaking, many later claimed that the voice and appearance 
of Brigham changed to such an extent that he looked and sounded like 
Joseph Smith, The startled congregation strained to see and hear and to 
comprehend this manifestation. "If Joseph had risen from the dead and 
stood before them," Helen Kimball wrote, "it could hardly have made a 



deeper or more lasting impression. It was the very voice of Joseph him- 
self." l This settled the debate. To those present, it was clear that the man- 
tle of Joseph had fallen on Brigham Young. The congregation sustained 
the Twelve as the acting First Presidency, with Brigham Young, as senior 
member of the Twelve, their leader. Although Rigdon was treated with 
kindness and invited to remain in Nauvoo, he continued to work against 
the Twelve (secretly ordaining men to be prophets, priests, and kings, for 
example). He was excommunicated in September, and afterward returned 
to Pittsburgh. 

Heber, partly because he was next in seniority and partly because of 
his closeness to Brigham Young, became and remained until his death 
twenty-four years later de facto and de jure first counselor to Young and 
the second-ranking leader in the church. Although he did not know it, he 
had been on his last mission. Thereafter he became an administrator, and a 
new phase of his life commenced. Up to Joseph's death all of the Apostles 
had been generally equal, and since nothing had occurred to reveal the im- 
portance of seniority, it had not been of much significance. Later it became 
increasingly meaningful. 

Throughout the life of Joseph Smith, Heber had been a mild, indepen- 
dent, easygoing missionary-apostle with little flair for leadership or feel for 
authority. After the death of Joseph, he voluntarily subordinated himself 
to Brigham Young and became a dynamic, authoritarian lieutenant. His 
sermons of this period show how quickly he began to assume the role of 
authority, how soon he commenced to change from a follower to a strong 
leader. These early sermons were as commanding, hortatory, vigorous, 
and straightforward (though not quite so salty) as any from the Utah 

With the all-important question of succession settled, Nauvoo turned 
from its grief to effecting the plans of its martyred prophet — completing 
the temple, building a better Nauvoo, and expanding the proselytizing 
program. To accomplish this, Wilford Woodruff was sent to England to 
preside over European affairs, and a special committee of three — Brigham 
Young, Heber Kimball, and Willard Richards — was organized to preside 
in North America. Endless council meetings were held among church lead- 
ers, frequently with the Council of Fifty, a partially secret group of leading 
church members and citizens of Nauvoo which Joseph had organized dur- 
ing the spring of 1844. Its purpose was to function as a sort of symbolic 
government or political arm of the church and to concern itself with tem- 
poral matters of building the Kingdom. Its existence reflected the beliefs of 
early Mormons that a literal, physical Kingdom of God was soon to be 

Preparations for the Exodus 115 

established on the earth. After the death of Joseph Smith and until the 
1 880s the Council of Fifty sometimes aided in the civil and temporal af- 
fairs of the church. 

At the October, 1844, conference, the first since the death of Joseph, 
missionary work was furthered by dividing the United States and Canada 
into ecclesiastical districts and urging converts to gather and build Nau- 
voo. The minutes of the conference report that Heber moved that "we as a 
church endeavor to carry out the principles and measures heretofore 
adopted and laid down by Joseph Smith as far as in us lies, praying al- 
mighty God to help us to do it." The motion carried unanimously and the 
people rallied around their leaders and strove mightily to fulfill it. 

Heber was especially busy preaching, administering, building a home, 
reading and writing history, tending to family affairs, looking after the 
sick, building the temple, negotiating with anti-Mormon forces, preparing 
for an uncertain future, and hiding occasionally to avoid writs and sum- 
monses on various charges against him — in short, building up Nauvoo 
and at the same time preparing to leave it. 

Symbolically, Nauvoo was renamed the "City of Joseph," and the 
"History of the Church," which had been appearing in leisurely fashion in 
the Times and Seasons, was changed to the "History of Joseph Smith" and 
was henceforth written and published more rapidly. Heber had a direct 
hand in this compilation. He contributed to it and was often consulted as 
an authority. 

Joseph took the writing of his own history seriously. For years he kept 
one or more clerks busy collecting and compiling records, but as a result of 
unsettled conditions, little history had been produced. After Willard 
Richards was appointed Church Historian in July, 1843, he found many 
records lost or stolen and tried to bring order out of ten years of neglect 
and chaos. It was his work that was published in the Times and Seasons. 
Richards, to fill in the lacunae in the record, would compile an account of 
a certain period as well as he could from the records he inherited and then 
read it aloud to Heber, Brigham Young, and others, who would correct 
errors and add information. Unfortunately for later students, much of 
what Richards learned from others was added to the official record in the 
first person, giving the impression that Joseph himself had said or written 
it. (In an effort to keep a better record of his own life, Heber began to 
study "phonography" [phonetic or shorthand writing] with George D. 
Watt, Heber's first convert in England, but other than two attempts to 
write the Lord's Prayer in Pitman in his journal of that period, there is no 
evidence that Heber ever mastered or used the method.) 


To fully understand Heber's actions after January, 1845, it is neces- 
sary to know that by then the Quorum of the Twelve had decided to aban- 
don Nauvoo and move west. This decision, however, was not made public 
until the following September, when anti-Mormon activities resumed in 
earnest. Brigham and Heber therefore, were for most of 1845 m tne awk- 
ward position of encouraging the people to labor mightily to build a city 
that was soon to be abandoned. 

In January, 1845, tne Quorum of the Twelve issued a General Epistle 
exhorting the Saints to do all in their power to build the temple and assur- 
ing the people that "our city is progressing, and the work of the Lord is 
rolling forth with unprecedented rapidity." At the same time the Nauvoo 
Neighbor, and later the Times and Seasons, commenced a series of articles 
about Indians and Oregon which were most likely designed to prepare the 
Saints, psychologically at least, for a westward move. 

Early in 1845, to improve Nauvoo's cultural and economic life, the 
Seventies' Library, the Nauvoo Trades Committee, the Nauvoo Manufac- 
turing Association, and the Mercantile and Mechanical Association were 
organized. And during the April conference, in an effort to make the 
church independent, Heber advised the Saints to cultivate "corn, peas, and 
beans . . . and every other thing we need for our own comfort ... we want 
to see every lot in the city of Joseph fenced up and cultivated, and let every 
street that is not used, be fenced up, and planted. . . ." 

He urged the people to make their own cloth, stockings, shoes, bon- 
nets, and caps, in order to be independent of the Gentiles (non-Mormons). 
Fathers were urged to keep their daughters at home — not to let them work 
in Gentile homes. The brethren were asked not to reap, plow, or dig for 
the Gentiles, and their grogshops were not to be patronized. To show his 
contempt for Gentiles, Heber announced, "I will bet you a dollar, I can go 
and buy, and drink a gallon of their liquor every day and I will not get 
drunk, because it is mostly water." In response to his motion the con- 
ference withdrew all fellowship from the Gentiles and agreed to "deliver 
them up to the buffetings of Satan." 2 Thus did Heber teach economic inde- 
pendence, self-sufficiency, and a boycott of non-Mormon goods — exactly 
as he would teach it later in the Great Basin. 

Above all, however, special attention was devoted to completing the 
temple. The site and the cornerstone had been dedicated April 6, 184 1. At 
the time of Joseph's assassination the temple was only one story high. 
Eleven months later, on May 24, 1845, tne capstone was laid. Thereafter 
interior work continued feverishly. The temple consisted of a basement 
floor for baptismal work, a first-floor assembly for worship services, an 

Preparations for the Exodus 117 

unfinished second floor, and an attic for several endowment rooms and 

On October 5, 1845, the first general meeting was held in the finished 
lower assembly room; on November 21, the painters finished painting the 
upper rooms in the attic, which were dedicated November 22; on Decem- 
ber 2, Heber and his son William drove around Nauvoo picking up potted 
evergreens for the attic garden room. Two of Heber's wives, Clarissa and 
Emily Cutler, made a cotton veil for the main endowment room, which 
was hung December 5, and endowment work began on December 10. 

Thereafter through at least February 7 more than 5,600 persons re- 
ceived their endowments, with as many as 295 going through in a single 
day. So great were the desires of the people to secure their temple blessings 
before the exodus that during this sixty-day period Heber sometimes 
worked in the temple all night. He seems to have slowly assumed general 
charge of temple work. One of his journals became an official temple rec- 
ord, his room in the temple became an office "for the convenience of trans- 
acting business with persons from without," and he himself often offici- 
ated at the veil and took various parts in the ritual. 3 

Throughout the winter of 1 845-46, dancing and recreation were per- 
mitted in the unfinished second floor of the temple. After the endowment 
work of December 30, for example, there was some dancing and singing in 
the temple during which time "Mother" Elizabeth Ann Whitney sang in 
tongues. The spirit of glossolalia affected Heber as well, for he also spoke 
in tongues on that evening. Unfortunately we know nothing of what he 
said, whether anyone "translated" for him, or what the response of the 
people was. Later in Utah he adroitly evaded the question of his ability to 
speak in tongues. "As for the gift of tongues," he said, "I do not speak in 
tongues often. Can 1 speak in tongues? Yes, 1 can speak in a good, beauti- 
ful language to this people at any time." 4 

The gift of tongues can be understood in two senses — the power to 
speak in a foreign tongue previously unknown to the speaker (as in Acts 
2:4—11 on the day of Pentecost) or to speak some totally unidentifiable 
language such as the "tongues of angels" (see 1 Corinthians 13 : 1) or the 
so-called "Adamic" tongue. When Mormon missionaries learn foreign 
languages quickly they like to think they are enjoying the gift of tongues in 
some sense, but it is otherwise rare among twentieth-century Mormons. 
Seldom will someone have the immediate but short-term ability to speak 
(or understand) a foreign tongue as Heber did among the Swiss immi- 
grants in 1856 (see p. 39). Even less frequently will Mormons speak in 


some completely unidentifiable language, as Heber did in the Nauvoo 

As would be expected, there were those who questioned the propriety 
of dancing in the temple. To them Brigham Young said in his usual force- 
ful manner, "Now as to dancing in this house — there are thousands of 
brethren and sisters that have labored hard to build these walls and put on 
this roof, and they are shut-out from any opportunity of enjoying any 
amusement among the wicked — or in the world — and shall they have any 
recreation? Yes! Where? Why in the Temple of the Lord. That .is the very 
place where they can have liberty — and we will enjoy it this winter and 
then leave it." 5 

As is frequently the case, however, some people went too far and be- 
came too casual while inside the temple. The total sacredness which today 
surrounds everything about temple work had not then evolved. The Kirt- 
land and Nauvoo temples resembled churches and were perceived, like ca- 
thedrals in medieval Europe, more as community centers than as buildings 
enclosing holy space. This concept developed in Utah, where the very ar- 
chitecture of temples, with turrets, towers, and crenelated crests, suggested 
fortresses defining and protecting this holy space from a sinful world. 

Work in the temple sometimes went on night and day, and it was not 
uncommon for some people to cook, eat, tend babies, even sleep in the side 
rooms at times. When Heber discovered this and other more serious irreg- 
ularities, he was angry and warned all, "You can't sin so cheap now as you 
could before you came to this order [i.e., received their endowments in the 
temple]." 6 At his insistence, thereafter no one was allowed into the temple 
without an official invitation (the origin of today's temple "recommend"), 
and strict order and decorum were maintained within the holy precincts. 

Work continued on the temple even after the city was partly deserted. 
"The Million-Dollar Sacrifice" was not dedicated until April 30 and May 
1, long after Heber Kimball and Brigham Young and their first group of ex- 
iles had disappeared into Iowa. Practical, conservative, businesslike Mor- 
mons sometimes do strange things. Untold wealth and energy, for exam- 
ple, have always been expended in proselytizing, even in unfruitful areas 
and among uninterested peoples, but encouraged by both the New Testa- 
ment admonition "to teach all nations, baptizing them" and by Joseph 
Smith's injunction that "the greatest and most important duty is to preach 
the Gospel," missionary work has always gone forward regardless of cost. 
Likewise no expense has ever been spared in building temples. Non-Mor- 
mons, puzzled by why Mormons do some of the things they do, often con- 
sider them quixotic. Surely the push, at all costs, to complete the Nauvoo 
temple after the death of Joseph, throughout the later preparation for quit- 

Preparations for the Exodus 119 

ting Nauvoo, and even after the exodus had begun must seem to many 
as strange. Wallace Stegner has correctly appraised the reason for such 
behavior: "Without the completion of the endowments, the Mormons' 
departure from Nauvoo would have been only flight, but with the en- 
dowments completed, they could go as saved and as convenanted peo- 
ple. . . ." 7 It could also be pointed out, from a more practical point of 
view, that Brigham Young, Heber Kimball, and others probably realized 
that a completed building would be easier to rent or sell after the Mor- 
mons left. 

Heber constantly harangued the people to work on the temple. "Roll 
out your rusty dollars, and your rusty coppers," he urged, "and let us rush 
on this house as fast as possible. When you gent [get] it done you will have 
joy and gladness, and greater shouting, than we had when the cap stone 
was laid. We will make this city ring with hosannas to the Most High 
God." Then he added encouragingly, "You can see how fast that house is 
going up. You will see an addition to it all the time until the last shingle 
goes on. We will have our next conference in it ... 1 do not go out of 
doors, and look at that house, but the prayer of my heart is, 'O, Lord save 
this people, and help them to build thy house.'" 8 

What Heber saw when he looked at the temple was a modified New 
England church high on the bluffs. Made of finished light gray limestone 
blocks, it measured 128 feet long by 88 feet wide and was three stories tall, 
lighted by rows of traditional painted gothic windows and by an unusual 
use of round windows. The walls at the eaves were 60 feet high and the 
tower eventually soared to 158 feet. Set into the walls were thirty pilasters 
with sun-stone capitals and moon-stone bases; star-stones were on the 
frieze — all symbolizing the three degrees of heavenly glory mentioned by 
Paul. ("There is one glory of the sun, and another of the moon, and an- 
other glory of the stars ... so also is the resurrection," I Corinthians 
15:40-42). Early Mormons had a predilection for symbols; they felt a 
need to express their shared values, to express the uniqueness of their faith 
and the distinction of their community. 9 

Heber was so intent on finishing the temple that he even practiced a 
bit of deception. "I went to work and built that large house (his Nauvoo 
home]," he admitted years later in Utah, "when I knew we should leave in 
a short time, to excite your feelings with the belief we were going to stay 
there, that you might build and complete that Temple. This course was for 
your own salvation." 10 

So successful were the Mormon people in carrying out the ideas of 
their dead Prophet that by September, 1845, it was obvious that the 
church was not going to wither away, as many had expected. Anti-Mor- 


mon activities then resumed in earnest. Heber's journal records many mob 
activities, as well as Mormon attempts to negotiate. That fall, over 200 
Mormon homes and farm buildings located outside Nauvoo were burned. 
Eventually the anti-Mormon convention headquartered in Carthage de- 
creed that the Mormons could remain in Illinois until the spring of 1846, 
and until then peace would be maintained on both sides. Compelled to 
accept these terms, the Mormons made every effort to meet this deadline. 
Every home, including Heber's, became a workshop in preparation for the 

Anti-Mormon fanatics, however, did not keep the peace, and harass- 
ment continued, occasionally forcing Heber and other leaders into hid- 
ing. 11 Among the anti-Mormon charges were aiding and abetting Joseph 
Smith in the treasonous designs against the state, building an arsenal, 
keeping cannons in peacetime, and counterfeiting. On one occasion, Brig- 
ham Young, John Taylor, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Hyde, and others, includ- 
ing the colorful non-Mormon, Edward Bonney, were indicted for counter- 
feiting. 12 Later all charges were dropped except those against Bonney, who 
was sentenced to be hanged. Heber noted: "Amos Bonny [sic] came to my 
house in the Eve and Said his brother Edwin [sic] Bonny was sentenced to 
be hung. If so, it is in answer to praying." 13 Heber, at least, was tired of his 
people being blamed for the wrongs of others. There is some evidence, 
however, that a few Mormons may very well have been involved in "mak- 
ing bogus." We learn from Heber that during the summer of 1845, two 
Mormons (or would-be Mormons) had been in jail in Quincy for counter- 
feiting and that "Bishop Haywood [Joseph L. Heywood of Quincy] said 
they were guilty." 14 

The theme of the October, 1845, conference was optimistic. "I am 
glad," Heber said from the pulpit of the first floor of the temple: "the time 
of our Exodus is come . . . and although we leave all our fine houses and 
farms here, how long do you think it will be before we shall be better off 
than we are now?" He then did something which he was to do with in- 
creasing frequency and confidence — prophesy. "I will prophesy in the 
name of Heber C. Kimball, that in five years, we will be as well again off as 
we are now." 15 

The year 1845 ended with Heber Kimball and Brigham Young exam- 
ining maps and reading various travel accounts of the Far West in prepara- 
tion for an exodus. Among the works they read were John C. Fremont, 
Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 

1842, and to Oregon and California in the Years 1841—4}. (In September, 

1843, Fremont had actually camped on the site which became Salt Lake 
City.) They also consulted Lansford W. Hastings's Emigrants' Guide to 

Preparations for the Exodus 1 21 

Oregon and California. Since for fifteen years the Mormons had lived on 
the frontier, they were basically well informed about the Far West. From 
1832 articles had appeared in the Mormon press regarding the West, and 
between 1843 and 1845 more than fifty articles on this subject had been 
published in the Tunes and Seasons and Natwoo Neighbor. 

The year 1846 began badly. The charters of the Nauvoo Legion and 
of the City of Nauvoo were revoked in January, thus eliminating what 
legal and military protection the Mormons had. Rumors were spreading 
that the U.S. government would prevent the Mormons from leaving be- 
cause they were suspected of counterfeiting and of secretly planning to go 
to Oregon to strengthen England's control over that disputed area. Appar- 
ently these rumors led church leaders to decide to quit Nauvoo as soon as 
possible rather than to await the agreed-upon spring departure time. But 
the fact that Heber and others would leave pregnant wives and young chil- 
dren behind in Nauvoo after they started west suggests that there was little 
fear of mob violence at that time. 

On top of all this public activity Heber still had many private con- 
cerns. In 1843 he had added a brick addition to his log home on the flats. 
During the summer and fall of 1845 tne °^ '°g portion was razed and 
replaced by a two-story brick structure. The house was built in the severe 
Federal style of the period, with stepped fire gables on the ends. (The gin- 
gerbread widow's walk and porch of today were added years later and al- 
ter the original design. When Heber lived there it would have looked more 
like the restored homes of Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff.) When 
the house was finished November 12, 1845, lt was t ' ie ^ rst adequate dwell- 
ing the Kimballs had had in the twelve years since they had left Mendon. 
They were to enjoy its comforts for only four months and five days, how- 
ever. Then it would be another six years of tents, wagon boxes, and log 
cabins before Vilate had another comfortable home. 

During the short time Vilate was in her new home she did a little so- 
cializing. One evening in October, 1845, she invited some friends to their 
home, and Helen's piano teacher, Ann Pitchforth, entertained. The family 
also sat for a portrait by a "Brother Major" from England. "It was upon a 
large canvas," Helen noted, "tastefully arranged, my father and mother 
sitting with baby in the center, myself at her side and my brother William 
and his wife and little daughter on the left, and four younger brothers 
made up the family group. . . ," 16 

In spite of the pressures and responsibilities placed on Heber and 
Brigham Young, they took time to worry over piano lessons for their 
daughters. Helen had no piano at home to practice on, but she later wrote, 


"President Brigham Young had a small piano and invited me to come 
to his house and practice with his daughter Vilate, who though younger 
than myself, had previous advantages, but was rather indifferent, and he 
thought if I practiced with her, she would take a greater interest. Their 
piano stood in Sister Young's room, and her health being very poor, he 
proposed to have it brought to our house when the upper part was done. 
This pleased us both immensely." 

Helen practiced diligently until "it was decided that we were to be 
broken up and move to the Rocky Mountains. Though the piano remained 
there throughout the winter 1 felt no encouragement to continue taking 
lessons, though father tried to stimulate me to and said, to encourage me, 
that they should have the necessary materials taken to manufacture pianos 
and I should have one, but I knew that I would forget it all." r 

Heber's family continued to grow. During September, October, and 
November, 1844, when great consideration was being given to the future 
welfare of the widows of church leaders, especially of Joseph's, Heber 
married one of the latter — Sarah Lawrence. 18 He also married Rebecca 
Swain, widow of Frederick G. Williams, a former counselor to Joseph who 
had died in 1842, and six other women: Frances Jessie Swan, Charlotte 
Chase, Mary Ellen Harris, Ellen Sanders, Ann Alice Gheen, as well as 
Nancy Maria Winchester (who was later sealed to Joseph). During 1845 
he married two more of Joseph's widows, Sarah Ann Whitney and Lucy 
Walker, and three other women — Amanda Gheen (sister of Ann Alice), 
and the sisters Clarissa and Emily Cutler. 

By January, 1846, Heber had sixteen wives (of whom Frances Swan, 
Sarah Ann Whitney, Clarissa and Emily Cutler were pregnant), at least 
eight living children, and partial responsibility for some of the fourteen 
other children three of his wives had had by previous husbands. Then, just 
prior to the February exodus from Nauvoo, he married at least twenty-two 
more women, including two more real widows of Joseph, Presendia (also 
spelled "Prescindia") Huntington and Martha McBride, four more post- 
humous "widows" (that is, women sealed to Joseph after his death), Sarah 
Scott, Sarah Stiles, Sylvia Porter Sessions, and Mary Houston, and a 
widow of Hyrum Smith, Mary Fielding — giving Heber a total of at least 
thirty-eight wives. 19 Although Heber eventually was sealed to forty-three 
women, not all these were connubial marriages: his sixty-five children 
were by only seventeen wives. Heber married the widows of Joseph Smith 
not only to care for them, but because he believed it was necessary to raise 
up children to the martyred Prophet. This doctrine was based on Deu- 
teronomy 25 : 5-10, which stipulated that if a man died without posterity 
his brother should marry his wife and produce it for him. One of Joseph's 

Preparations for the Exodus 123 

widows, Lucy Walker, later testified, "The contract when I married Mr. 
Kimball was that 1 should be his wife for time, and time only, and the con- 
tract on the part of Mr. Kimball was that he would take care of me during 
my lifetime, and in the resurrection would surrender me, with my chil- 
dren, to Joseph Smith." 20 

Rumor and fantasy to the contrary, there was apparently little ro- 
mance in Mormon plurality. Heber's sealing to so many wives just prior to 
leaving Nauvoo was not only unromantic (still less sybaritic), it was fool- 
hardy. The last thing Heber needed at that time was more responsibility. 
By doing so, however, he indicated his willingness to assume full liability 
for these women (and their children) while heading into the unknown. It 
was also the last chance to have such marriages solemnized in the temple. 
Further, it appears that some single women were very much concerned 
over the prospect of going into the unknown without some kind of hus- 
band to protect them. But Heber, despite all his marrying, was not sympa- 
thetic. "Some single women think they can't go into the wild without 
being married — what a pity — they are foolish stories. . . ." 21 The unusual 
and pragmatic nature of many of these marriages goes far in explaining 
why ten wives left him and six are unaccounted for after the move to the 
West, and why he had children by only seventeen. 

The advance party was ready to leave Nauvoo, and the first crossing 
of the Mississippi took place on February 4, 1846. Heber, turning his 
home over to part of his large family, started transporting another part of 
his family across the river on flatboats on February 16, and joined others 
huddling together at the temporary camp and staging ground being estab- 
lished west of Montrose on Sugar Creek about seven miles from the river. 
Thereafter, until the camp moved out on March 1, there was continual 
crossing of the river in both directions. During the last few days in Febru- 
ary, it was so cold that wagons crossed on the ice. Many dared not let the 
leaders out of their sight and crossed in near panic for fear of being left 

The initial crossing and camping were neither orderly nor disciplined, 
and few people had followed advice and had adequate food supplies with 
them. Those leaving Nauvoo had been previously admonished to have (for 
every family of five) a good wagon, three yoke of oxen, two cows, two beef 
cattle, three sheep, 1,000 pounds of flour, 20 pounds of sugar, two pounds 
of tea, five pounds of coffee, one rifle, ammunition, and a tent. In addition 
to this "fit-out," costing about $250, they needed all the clothing, bed- 
ding, and other foodstuffs they could acquire. Although Heber entered the 
Sugar Creek camp with a two-year supply of food, the mismanagement 
and unpreparedness of others caused it to be consumed within two weeks. 


In spite of this and other difficulties attending the evacuation, months 
of planning and preparation made the exodus, even though several months 
ahead of schedule, much more orderly and successful than is generally be- 
lieved, and far from the fiery and bloody route of folklore. (The real hor- 
rors would take place the following September, when those who had not 
yet left were literally driven to the water's edge by mobs.) 

And so Heber's home and the partially abandoned Nauvoo were be- 
hind him across the nickel-colored Mississippi. His future lay in the West. 
He and the part of his family who were with him were commencing a new 
phase in their lives. 


i. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. i i (Feb. i, 1883), 130. 

2. Times and Seasons, July 15, i 845. Years later in Utah he once said that he 
had never been "so drunk, but once, but what I could whip any man I ever saw 
except Brother Brigham. " Journal of Discourses, vol. 5 (July 12, 1857), 30-31. 

3. This journal, no. 93, gives great detail about all aspects of the temple — 
construction, decoration, sessions, etc. 

4. Journal of Discourses, vol. 4 (Jan. 1 1, 1957), 170. 

5. H. C. Kimball, Journal 93, Jan. 26, 1846, Church Archives. 

6. Ibid., Dec. 21, 1845. 

7. Wallace Stegner, The Gathering of Zion (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), 


8. Times and Seasons, Aug. 1 , 1845. 

9. See Allen D. Roberts, "The Origin, Use, and Decline of Early Mormon 
Symbolism," Sunstone, vol. 4 (May-June, 1979), 22-37. 

10. "Discourse in the Tabernacle," Mar. 23, 1853, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

11. During Oct., 1844, Heber and Brigham Young visited the Norwegian 
Branch of Ottawa, Illinois, where Heber may have first met two of his future 
wives— Ellen and Harriet Sanders. 

12. The documents pertaining to the indictment and proceedings are in the 
National Archives, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasurer, RG 206, Part 11, mi- 
crofilm copy at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Edwin Bonney came to 
Nauvoo in 1844 from New York and Indiana with his wife and three daughters. 
He never became a Mormon and generally associated with Mississippi River coun- 
terfeiters and thieves. In 1845 he moved across the river to Montrose, Iowa, and 
was eventually acquitted of the 1846 charges of counterfeiting. His book, The 
Banditti of the Prairies (1850), became a best-seller and made him famous. He died 
in Chicago in 1864. 

13. H. C. Kimball, Journal 91, Nov. 12, 1845, Church Archives. 

Preparations for the Exodus 12.5 

14. Ibid., June 4, 1845. 

15. Times and Seasons, Nov. 1, 1845. 

16. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 12 (Oct. 1 5, 1883), 74. A simi- 
lar painting by William M. Majors of the Brigham Young family has survived. It 
shows the parents and six children in an English country mansion setting. 

17. Ibid., vol. 11 (Mar. 15, 1883), 1 54. She got the piano. 

18. Little is known about the financial support of Joseph's widows. One, 
Lucy Walker, recorded that they all had to fend for themselves, to learn a trade. 
Maria (Nancy Maria Winchester?) and Sarah Lawrence, for example, went to 
work in a millinery shop in Quincy. "A Brief Biographical Sketch of the Life and 
Labors of Lucy Walker Kimball Smith," Lucy Walker Kimball Papers, Church 

19. For the record, Heber married five actual widows of Joseph and five who 
had been married to Joseph posthumously, and he had nineteen children by four — 
Huntington, McBride, Walker, and Whitney. Eleven of these children survived 
Kimball and at his death ranged in age from six to eighteen. Walker was the 
mother of five, Whitney of (ive, and Huntington of one. This practice raises a ques- 
tion: whom did these children consider to be their real father — Heber or Joseph? 
To date I have found no document with reference to this question. There is no evi- 
dence that these children were treated in any way differently from Kimball's other 
children. Their relation to Joseph probably was explained to them as they 

20. Testimony of Lucy W. Kimball as cited in the Abstract of Evidence, [In- 
dependence] Temple Lot Case, vol. 2, 379. 

21. Minutes, Nov. 16, 1845, Thomas Bullock Collection, Church Archives. 




^B^l^^^^^^^^^^^_ ^j 

Heber C. Kimball, from the original daguerrotype, 
c. 1850-60. Courtesy of Historical Department, Church 
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

The Cock Pit, Preston, England. Leased by Heber C. Kimball in 1838 as Mormon 
meeting hall. Courtesy of Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of 
Latter-day Saints. 



l| Mm 

v •.«• 

. «« |i,i u,f*«. I fi 

Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, Ohio, dedicated 1836. Courtesy of Historical Depart- 
ment, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Heber C. Kimball home, Nauvoo, Illinois, c. 1910. The ornate woodwork is not 
original. Courtesy of Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- 
day Saints. 

^ § 


§ s 

1 3 


.a 6 

.a -S 

C >^ 

to *j 

S 5 







u S 

U >> 

U -a 










CUD >» 

u* CO 

o -a 


c o 

O 4- 

« U 


o o 

r u 

>Js ""(' ft v 


• ■ ■> J. 


$"&m& ~mi 

Drawings from original Mormon pioneer journal kept for Heber C. Kirr 
ball by Peter O. Hansen across Iowa in 1846. Mountain men, Indians, an 


m*. .. 

3f r- 

/u&L ^ p . 


U.S. soldiers, Council Bluffs, Iowa, 1846-47. Courtesy of Historical De- 
partment, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 




; r 



! v 

Drawings from Kimball-Hansen journal. Views of Mt. Pisgah, permanei 
Mormon camp in Iowa, May 18, 1846. Courtesy of Historical Depar 




* ' -' if: J 





-£>' g 

' <¥ f 7 


X :^- 

f f 



ment, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

p J 1 

( [ 

i\ / §A 

P W//A 

v. % 

/ ? 

\ c 

4 ' »i-' \4 J 

u / 


^ f 


; ^ 



... / r 

r 3 




C5 J 

f .V 

^A v/ ■' 

•:■ * I i ■•( 

1 s a , 


Vi -I 

I'll/ ^ V; 




Drawings from Kimball-Hansen journal. Le/>, another view of Mt. Pisgal 
Right, north end of the City of the Saints at Cutler's Park, Nebraska (ne; 


K ji-vi 

Winter Quarters), 1846. Courtesy of 
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Historical Department, Church of 

Vilate Murray Kimball, first wife of Heber C. Kimball. Courtesy of Historical 
Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Heber C. Kimball, from the original daguerrotype, c. 1850-60. Courtesy of 
Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
















Road to 

Great Salt 







Road to 
the north 

, Ensign Peak 
1 .4 miles 




I Kimball | 
Block & Home 



Lj £ Center 

__ r 

hndowment House 


Temp e 
cle'OB ■ 
Boweryj-H S Q UARE 



J 01d" 

1 r 

Deseret Store & 
Tithing Office] 

/ Young's homes 
|/ |,|fr office 








Salt Lake 

, — Salt Lake. 

Hall of 






Road to 




1 r 


i r 


Road to Public 
the South I I Square 


Salt Lake City as it appeared during Heber C. Kimball's lifetime. 




S .£ 

■s ^ 

£ O 

E •£ 
f u 

-S * 

3 j= 




It was pretty hard and laborious, I admit; 

but it was one of the pleasantest journeys 1 ever performed. 

Journal of Discourses, Aug. z, 1857 


The Trek across Iowa 

By the time the exodus began, Heber's family consisted of at least thirty- 
eight wives (four of whom were pregnant), six small children, and two 
married children and their families. He was also responsible for several 
foster children his wives had borne before marrying him, and seven adopted 
sons, some of whom had families of their own. 1 The fact that polygamy was 
still semi-secret, neither publicly admitted nor generally known throughout 
the church, makes it very difficult to account for the number and where- 
abouts of members of Heber's family, since information on them is very 

Sometime in February 1846 he gathered at Sugar Creek the thirty or 
so of his family going west with him. This group, living in wagons and 
tents, probably consisted of twelve to fourteen wives, including Vilate, 
Ellen Sanders, Harriet Sanders, Sarah Lawrence, Sarah Peak, Christeen 
Golden, and the pregnant Sarah Ann Whitney; Vilate 's four small sons; 
Helen and her husband, Horace Whitney; William and his wife Mary 
Davenport and their daughter; and Heber's adopted sons. 

Among the wives Heber temporarily left behind were Sarah Peak with 
an eight-month-old infant, Lucy Walker with a one-month-old infant, the 
sisters Clarissa and Emily Cutler, and Frances Swan, all three of whom 
were pregnant. 

Camp life at Sugar Creek, where several thousand people were gath- 
ered, was grim, with the temperature often below freezing — the wind was 
not tempered to these shorn lambs. Heber's family lived in their wagons 
and tents. In spite of the harsh conditions, however, there was some merri- 
ment in camp and along the trail. Almost every night William Pitt's Brass 
Band played the grand marches, quick-steps, and gallops popular at the 
time. The people also frequently danced — reels, jigs, polkas, quadrilles, 
and other square and line dances — to the music of fiddles. (Round dances, 
especially the new waltz, were suspect). Around the campfires they sang 



such favorites as "Home Sweet Home," "The Old Arm Chair," and "Dan- 
dy Jim from Caroline." Later on they made up some of their own songs, 
such as "The Way We Crossed the Plains": 

In a shaky wagon we ride, for to cross the prairie wide. 
As slowly the oxen moved along, 
We walloped them well with a good leather thong. 
The way we crossed the plains. 

or "The Upper California": 

The upper California, Oh that's the land for me! 

It lies between the mountains and the great Pacific Sea; 

The Saints can be supported there, 

And taste the sweets of liberty. 

In the Upper California, that's the land for me! 

Sunday, March 1, 1846, dawned crisp and clear, and the camp was 
ready to move out. In an effort to further prepare the Saints for the exodus 
and to chastise them for "running to Brother Brigham" so much, Heber 
had an area cleared of snow and gave notice that the entire camp was to 
assemble at 10:00 a.m. Climbing on a wagon wheel and pulling his great- 
coat tightly around him, he warned them they would be tried, and made it 
clear that there was to be none of the disobedience which had earlier 
brought a plague upon Zion's Camp. "I want no man to touch any of my 
things," he insisted, "without my leave. If any man will come to me and 
say that he wants to steal I will give him the amount." Finally he warned, 
"Cease all your loud laughter and light speeches, for the Lord is displeased 
with such things, and call upon the Lord with all your might. " Promising 
them that they should "see the kingdom of God established and all the 
kingdoms of the world become kingdoms of Our God and His Christ," he 
dismissed the congregation and urged them to prepare to leave. 2 

No accurate record was kept of how many wagons and people were at 
Sugar Creek that March 1 — estimates vary from 400 to 500 wagons and 
from 3,000 to 5,000 individuals — but 500 wagons and 3,000 people is 
probably close to the truth. 

The ubiquitous white-tops or covered wagons of the era were the fa- 
vored vehicle for such travel. Families en route could live in and under 
these animal-drawn mobile homes, and at the end of the trail they could 
become temporary dwellings until permanent houses were erected. But the 
Saints used all kinds of wagons and carriages and a variety of draft ani- 
mals — horses, mules, oxen, and even cattle. Oxen were preferred when 
available, for they had great strength and patience and were easy to keep; 

The Trek across Iowa 131 

they did not fight mud or quicksand, required no expensive and compli- 
cated harness, could forage on almost anything, were less likely to stray, 
and were more valuable at the end of the trail. The science of "ox-team- 
ology" consisted of little more than walking along the left side and behind 
the lead oxen with a whip, prod, or goad urging them on and guiding 
them, and was considerably simpler than handling the reins of horses or 
mules. The oxen responded to the cry of "gee" for a right turn and "haw" 
for a left, and experienced teamsters might also lay their whip over the 
oxen's back when geeing and over the neck when hawing. With gentle 
oxen, widows with children could and did (with a little help, especially 
during the morning yoking up) transport themselves and possessions suc- 
cessfully all the way to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. 

What from the start was known as the "Camp of Israel" began to 
lumber out about noon to the gees and haws of teamsters and the yells of 
herdsmen and children and begin a nearly four-month journey of almost 
300 miles across Iowa, that Mormon Mesopotamia between the Missis- 
sippi and Missouri rivers. As the Great Trek progressed, the Saints noted 
and cherished Old Testament parallels to a Zion, a Chosen People, an Ex- 
odus, a Mt. Pisgah, and later to a Jordan River, Dead Sea, being "in the 
tops of the mountains," and making the desert blossom as the rose. In this 
the Mormons were unique only in that they pushed the parallels further 
than the much earlier Puritans and the first Oregonians, who had only re- 
cently preceded them west. 

The Mormons resembled the peoples of ancient Israel in other ways: 
they were divided into groups of fifties and tens, and they were at times 
fractious and whiny. To keep the camp together, or at least to keep in 
touch with the various leaders, Brigham and Heber appointed mounted 
couriers to ride back and forth, and also arranged for different colored 
signal flags to communicate messages and to call meetings. 

Heber had several wagons, and one large family carriage for Vilate 
and the young children. Most of the others in his family had to walk or 
ride horses when they could. Since Helen was her father's pet and since she 
had just married Horace Whitney and was really on her honeymoon, they 
were permitted the luxury of a wagon to themselves, sort of a thirty-four- 
square-foot bridal chamber on wheels. Lamps, rugs, pillows, and a little 
furniture made this wagon rather comfortable. Their bed was made upon 
boxes and bags of grain in the rear of the wagon, a provision chest in front 
served as a table, and in the middle was a chair in which Helen read or 
knitted while Horace reclined and read or played epithalamia on his flute. 

A few journals give a romantic cast to the exodus, but as most other 
journals make clear, the worst part of the entire journey from Nauvoo to 


the Valley of the Great Salt Lake was the beginning. No part of the long 
trek surpasses the tragedy and triumph of this hegira across the flat, open 
prairie of Iowa, which consisted then of little more than bluestem prairie 
grass and stands of oak and hickory forests along the numerous rivers and 
streams and dangerous swamps and bogs. Often, when roads did exist, 
they were more bridges than roads: logs lashed together with tough 
willows and thrown across the rolling swells. Wagon wheels easily cut 
through the foot-thick sod into muddy water. Heber may have reflected 
often on the frontier sarcasm that it was a middling good road when the 
mud did not quite reach one's boot tops while astride a horse. 

Across Iowa they followed territorial roads as far west as possible. 
Thereafter, because few travelers had preceded them west of the settle- 
ments, they used vague paths and Potawatomi Indian trails. Although the 
Mormons made some improvements along the roads and trails they fol- 
lowed across Iowa, they did little, if any, trailblazing. 

Injury, sickness, and death were commonplace: black scurvy, black 
canker (probably diphtheria), cholera morbus, typhoid fever, quick con- 
sumption (tuberculosis), and infection accompanying childbirth — in ref- 
erence to the latter the journal of midwife Patty Bartlett Sessions makes 
melancholy reading. To these trials one must add the weaknesses of human 
beings under stress and faced with constant rain and mud. 

The problem of privacy in elimination was solved by following the 
common rule of the day: men to one side, women to the other. If the 
women went in a group, several sisters standing with skirts spread wide 
could provide a privacy screen for each other. 3 

Across Iowa in 1846 and on the 1847 and 1848 treks to the Great 
Basin, the Mormons averaged, under normal conditions, two miles an 
hour, the usual speed of an ox pulling a heavy wagon all day long. For 
comparison, stagecoaches with frequent changes of horses averaged six- 
teen miles an hour. In the 1846 trek, it took a month to cover the first 100 
miles — an average of only three miles a day. 

The triumph of the Mormon exodus derived from the successful emi- 
gration of thousands of men, women, children, and livestock under such 
difficult conditions. By contrast, the original pioneer company that later 
went from Winter Quarters to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, April- 
July, 1847, did not suffer the death of one person or animal. 4 

Along the Iowa trail the basic skills of emigrating and colonizing were 
practiced, and several permanent camps were established. This part of the 
westward march influenced Mormon history long afterward. The Saints 
had learned only the rudimentary lessons of emigration during the Zion's 
Camp march from Ohio to Missouri in 1834; the advanced training had 

The Trek across Iowa 133 

to be acquired in Iowa. The skills gained there not only made the trek from 
Winter Quarters to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake easier, but also set the 
pattern for building and colonizing the Great Basin. 

Although it was generally well known among the Saints that the 
Camp of Israel was headed beyond the Rocky Mountains and into the 
Great Basin, little was said about where the camp would cross the Mis- 
souri and pick up the Oregon Trail. They had little intention of returning 
to Missouri and crossing at Independence, Weston, or St. Joseph, and the 
only other well-established point of crossing to the north was Council 
Bluffs, Iowa, which was closer to Nauvoo anyway. In August, 1845, the 
Quorum of the Twelve had sent several men on a reconnaissance mission 
to find the best route across Iowa, and having seen Council Bluffs they re- 
ported favorably on that crossing. In any case, whatever doubt may still 
have lingered in anyone's mind regarding the Missouri crossing was settled 
on April 12 at Mt. Pisgah, a permanent camp, when a definite and public 
decision was made to proceed directly thence to Council Bluffs. 

Eight days out of Sugar Creek, on March 8, near present-day Leba- 
non, one of Heber's wives, Sarah Ann Whitney, gave birth to a son, David, 
in a valley which Heber called, in Book of Mormon fashion, the Valley of 
David. This was the first of a series of place names which Heber would 
designate between Nauvoo and the Valley. (Few of his names, if any, sur- 
vive, however.) 

As the camp moved west some changes and improvements in organi- 
zation became necessary. Only the fundamental arrangement of the trek 
had been effected at Nauvoo and Sugar Creek. Many of the original fam- 
ilies for various reasons had returned to Nauvoo, and bad roads and 
weather had scattered others. 

On March 22 on the Chariton River, near present-day Sedan, Brig- 
ham and Heber called the remaining emigrants together and insisted that 
they maintain better order. To this end they regrouped into three com- 
panies, each with a hundred families. All three were then subdivided into 
fifties and then tens, each unit led by a captain, the most important leaders 
of which were those of the six groups of fifty — Brigham Young, Heber 
Kimball, Parley Pratt, Peter Haws, John Taylor, and George Miller. Wil- 
liam Clayton and Willard Richards were appointed camp clerk and histo- 
rian respectively. 

Thereafter the line of march continued somewhat to the southwest 
until the companies found themselves on Locust Creek, either close to or 
in Missouri, where they decided to bear more to the north. At that time, 
since the Missouri boundary was about ten miles north of where it is to- 
day, some of them actually dipped into what was then Putnam County. To 


prevent trouble with the feared Missourians for themselves and those who 
would follow, on April 14 Heber warned the camp never to be involved in 
any quarrels, strifes, or contentions with the inhabitants, but to court 
their favor by every possible means. 5 

That same day, while the camp was still in this disputed border area, a 
courier arrived with a letter from Nauvoo for Ellen Kimball; it told her of 
the safe birth of a son to William Clayton. She rushed this joyous news to 
him, and in celebration he had a little party in his tent that evening. 6 The 
next morning, walking off by himself, he wrote in joy and gratitude the 
words of the now-famous hymn "Come, Come, Ye Saints," often called, 
with some justification, the "Mormon Marseillaise" or the "Hymn heard 
round the world." The verses epitomize the Mormon motivation for going 
west and their experience on a dozen trails, some well known, some totally 
forgotten, between New York and California from 1831 to the completion 
of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. 

Come, come ye saints, no toil nor labor fear, 

But with joy wend your way; 

Though hard to you this journey may appear 

Grace shall be as your day. 

Tis better far for us to strive 

Our useless cares from us to drive; 

Do this, and joy your hearts will swell — 

All is well! All is well! 

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard? 

Tis not so; all is right. 

Why should we think to earn a great reward, 

If we now shun the fight? 

Gird up your loins, fresh courage take; 

Our God will never us forsake; 

And soon we'll have this tale to tell — 

All is well! All is well! 

We'll find a place which God for us prepared, 

Far away in the West, 

Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid; 

There the Saints will be blessed. 

We'll make the air with music ring, 

Shout praises to our God and King; 

Above the rest these words we'll tell — 

All is well! All is well! 

The Trek across Iowa 1 3 5 

And should we die before our journey's through, 

Happy day! All is well! 

We then are free from toil and sorrow, too: 

With the just we shall dwell! 

But if our lives are spared again 

To see the Saints their rest obtain, 

O how we'll make this chorus swell — 

All is well! All is well! 

Later that month while the party was camped on Medicine Creek, a 
rattlesnake bit one of Heber's horses. Without hesitation he quieted the 
animal, handed its reins to someone, and laid his hands on the animal's 
head, blessed it, and rebuked the poison; the horse recovered. To those 
who wondered at the propriety of this, Heber answered simply, "It is just 
as proper to lay hands on a horse or an ox and administer to them in the 
name of the Lord, and of such utility, as it is to a human being, both being 
creatures of His creation, both consequently having a claim to his atten- 
tion." 7 

By April 24 the Pioneers had reached a place which they named Gar- 
den Grove. It was located about halfway across Iowa, 155 miles west of 
Nauvoo and 130 miles east of Council Bluffs. Here, on the east bank of the 
Weldon Fork of the Grand River, they established the first of several per- 
manent camps between Nauvoo and Winter Quarters. In three weeks they 
had broken 715 acres of tough prairie sod, built cabins, and established a 
community. A town by the name of Garden Grove still exists on this old 

While at Garden Grove Heber requested his adopted son, Peter Han- 
sen, to keep a journal for him, which Hansen began on May iz, 1846, and 
kept through February 7, 1847. This journal, which ought to be known as 
the Kimball-Hansen journal, is mainly a day-by-day account of small 
events — eating, sleeping, sickness, troubles, fun, the weather, the terrain, 
flowers, incidental visits from the Indians, and the strawberry feasts which 
Heber loved. It reveals little of Heber's feelings or thoughts, just some of 
his activities. In one way, however, the journal is unusual, unique perhaps 
in Mormon history. Peter Hansen was raised in Denmark and had origi- 
nally learned to write in Danish script, similar to the old German Hand- 
schrift. Since this hand is difficult to read by English-speaking people, 
Hansen felt safe in recording in the margins of the journal over a period of 
several months many highly personal comments on thirty-eight members 
of the Kimball family. 

Most of the comments are rather general — to the effect that so-and-so 


is "good," "faithful," "prayerful," "diligent," and "righteous." But some 
are specific enough to suggest the difficulties which had already developed 
in the Kimball family and the greater sorrows to come. In Hansen's opin- 
ion, for example, William "has but little faith and neglects prayers"; 
Helen "has but little faith and ... is not always respectful of her parents 
. . . [and] is disobedient to her parents." Heber's young sons were "pretty 
good," "sassy," or "disobedient." Harriet Sanders was "inclined to jeal- 
ousy," and Sarah Peak was "not very strong in faith" and was "proud and 

At Garden Grove Heber learned that his home had been sold for 
thirty-five yoke of oxen, and wrote the church trustees to let the poor still 
in Nauvoo use them to come west. He added a comment indicative of the 
constant trouble the improvident Saints caused: "Here I am with thirty in 
my family and not one mouth full of meal nor have had for two weeks. . . . 
I am brought to this along with hundreds of others on account of so many 
coming on this journey without provisions to last them one week." 8 

When the camp moved out of Garden Grove on May 12, enough fam- 
ilies were left behind to maintain the community and to help later Nauvoo 
exiles, of which there would be thousands. Six days and about thirty-five 
miles later they established another permanent camp and resting place. 
This site, on the middle fork (Twelve-Mile Creek) of the Grand River, was 
selected and named Mt. Pisgah by Parley P. Pratt, who, when he first saw it 
rising above the Iowa prairie, was reminded of the biblical Pisgah, where 
Moses viewed the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3 :zj). There they built 
cabins and planted several thousand acres of rich bottomland lying to the 
west of the rise with peas, cucumbers, beans, corn, buckwheat, potatoes, 
pumpkins, and squash. Heber also took the opportunity to repair his wag- 
ons, tents, and other equipment. 

Mt. Pisgah was maintained as a camp until at least 1852, and at its 
height had over 2,000 inhabitants, among whom may have been part of 
Heber's large family, left there until the future was more certain. Today 
little of this site remains but a cemetery, a monument to the hundreds who 
died there between 1846 and 1852, and a nine-acre park and picnic area. 
In 1929 the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a marker in this 
area to honor the "first white settlement" in Union County. 

At Mt. Pisgah, after over two and a half months of Iowa mud, domes- 
tic problems, and the strain of leadership, Heber lost his customary good 
nature. He had had enough of whining and discontent. He assembled the 
camp in the shade of an oak and hickory grove, shucked his coat, and 
thundered that their lack of cooperation was holding the march back and 
that if they did not improve, the Twelve would go into foreign countries to 

The Trek across Iowa 137 

preach the Gospel and raise up a body of people who would be willing to 
abide by council and act as becomes the Saints of God. The Saints, with- 
ered by Heber's denunciation, reformed. Old-time Mormons could repent 
in a hurry — like Heber's son Jonathan Golden, who was wont to say on 
occasion, "Hell, they can't excommunicate me, I repent too damn fast!" 
The people tried to do better, and their leaders sought divine help in a 
special manner. They withdrew to the isolation of the limitless prairie, 
clothed themselves in temple robes, formed a prayer circle, and invoked 
God for the good of the people and the success of the venture. All along 
the trek such special group prayers were held. 

Late on June 2, the camp moved on toward Council Bluffs, 100 miles 
to the west, leaving behind enough people to improve and maintain Mt. 
Pisgah for the benefit of future Saints going west. This last section of the 
1846 journey was relatively pleasant: the sun dried the roads, grass grew, 
and strawberries flourished. On Sunday, June 7, Heber cheered the people, 
or at least tried to, by reminding them that they were like the children of 
Israel going to an unknown land, and that they had already been greatly 
blessed. 9 A week later the camp reached the Council Bluffs area and the 
first portion of the march was nearly over. 

From the bluffs Heber looked down on the remarkably wide flood- 
plain stretching for over eight miles to the Missouri, which even then was 
known as "Old Muddy Face" and beyond which lay the Far West. But at 
Council Bluffs the Mormons were not yet really in the wilderness. The 
general area, up and down the river, had been an Indian trading site since 
at least 1804, when Lewis and Clark stopped there, military forts had been 
built there as early as 1824, steamboats from St. Louis reached there as 
early as 18 19, and it was an established point of departure for Oregon and 
California. Downstream to Independence, Missouri, there were twenty- 
four inhabited sites on the river; upstream, eighty-one. There was a village 
and a steamboat landing on each side of the river, with service to Fort 
Leavenworth, Independence, and St. Louis, and regular mail service. In- 
dian agents were located on one, sometimes both, sides of the Missouri, 
and a Presbyterian Indian mission was on the west bank. Many goods and 
services, including some medical aid, were available. Later missionaries 
were even dispatched directly to England from there. It was only 150 miles 
from Far West and about 60 miles from some Missouri settlements, where 
some Mormons went to find work. And although separated from Nauvoo 
by the memory of over three months of sorrow, one could, under extreme 
circumstances, cover the distance in as little as nine days. 10 Once, by driv- 
ing night and day, it was done in six. 


Soon after their arrival, Heber, part of his family, and many others 
visited "Indian Town" or Council Point (located near today's South Oma- 
ha Bridge). It was a straggling village on the Iowa shore inhabited mainly 
by halfbreeds and some French people who had been there when the area 
was part of the French empire in the New World, or had drifted up from 
Louisiana and St. Louis. The village and the Indian agency were there 
mainly to serve the Potawatomi tribe. Pitt's band played and a dance was 
held. Generally amicable relations were maintained with this settlement 
throughout the sojourn of the Mormons there. 

During June the Pioneers settled temporarily in camps along the 
bluffs near Mosquito Creek and on the flats near the Missouri River just 
north of Indian Town. 

In the Council Bluffs vicinity Heber and the Mormons in general had 
their first real and sustained contacts with the Indians. The Book of Mor- 
mons gave the Saints a unique attitude toward the Indians explaining the 
early and continued concern for their welfare. According to Mormon be- 
lief, many American Indians are descended from several groups of people 
in pre-Columbian America who had rejected God and fallen under a curse. 
This curse was to be removed eventually through the acceptance of true 
Christianity. Mormons felt it was their obligation to help the Indians, not 
only to "civilize" them but also to teach them about the Restoration and 
help them become a "fair and delightsome people." 

Across Iowa the Mormons had been on Potawatomi lands since Mt. 
Pisgah. At Council Bluffs they met the Potawatomi chief, Pied Riche, 
called "the Clerk" by the French because of his education. The chief felt a 
kinship with the Mormons. In a welcoming speech he told them: "So we 
have both suffered. We must keep one another, and the Great Spirit will 
keep us both. You are now free to cut and use all the wood you wish. You 
can make your improvements and live on any part of our actual land not 
occupied by us. Because one suffers and does not deserve it, is no reason he 
should suffer always. I say, we may live to see all right yet. However, if we 
do not, our children will." 11 (The chief, like many Indians, was also a 

The Indian agent in Council Bluffs, Major Robert B. Mitchell, was 
also friendly to the Mormons. He reported to the Superintendent of In- 
dian Affairs in St. Louis: "I am gratified to say that since their arrival I 
have seen nothing to which exception could be taken. The principal men 
seem determined to hold themselves aloof from the Indians. They admit 
no intercourse after night particularly with the Indians. They complain 
that they have been badly treated, but declare their intentions to bear the 
American Flag to whatever country they cast their lot." 12 Much of the 

The Trek across Iowa 139 

Mormon aloofness may have stemmed from their concern that Indian hos- 
pitality sometimes included the offering of Indian women to visitors. 

In July the Mormons established a third, more permanent camp on 
the Iowa shore north of Indian Town, a camp which became known as 
Kanesville, the origin of modern-day Council Bluffs. After this camp was 
made Heber Kimball and Brigham Young were immediately concerned 
over two major problems: sending an advance company to the Rocky 
Mountains, and locating a place for the main portion of the camp to build 
winter quarters until they, too, could go west in the spring. 

On July 1, the first problem was solved by elimination. On that day 
Captain James Allen of the U.S. Army's First Regiment of Dragoons of 
Fort Leavenworth rode into the Mosquito Creek camp with a request 
from President James K. Polk for a battalion of 500 Mormon men to fight 
in the Mexican War, a generally unpopular war. Heber favored the action, 
however, and other church leaders concurred. Part of the agreement was 
that the Mormons would be permitted officially to camp on Potawatomi 
lands and, unofficially, allowed to move across the Missouri River and set- 
tle temporarily on Omaha Indian lands, which were closed to whites. n It 
was important to the Mormons to put one more river between them and 
the Gentiles. The next day, Heber and Brigham Young moved their fam- 
ilies across the quarter-mile-wide river to Cold Spring camp — a temporary 
camp in what is now South Omaha. 

On July 3 Heber, Brigham Young, and Willard Richards, acting as 
recruiting sergeants, started back with Allen along the line of march, 130 
miles to Mt. Pisgah, passing en route more than 800 Mormon wagons on 
their way to Council Bluffs. At Mt. Pisgah the Saints were assembled in a 
hickory grove where the shirt-sleeved Heber, standing before a deal table 
and under the flag, gave them, in his rough-and-ready manner, what he 
thought was a pep talk. He said he did not think the men would have to 
fight, assured them their wives would be taken care of, that they would 
never want, and then, in a curious appeal to their faith and manhood, 
added, "If any of you die, why die away and the work will go on . . . we 
will go on and put in a crop." u In spite of, or perhaps because of, this talk 
their work of recruitment was a success. By July 12, they were back in 
Council Bluffs, and soon the battalion was mustered in and organized. On 
July 2.0 the new recruits started off for Fort Leavenworth, located 150 
miles down the Missouri. Only one of Heber's extended family, John Fors- 
gren, signed up. 

There is still, as there was then, a widespread belief among Mormons 
that raising the Mormon Battalion was a great sacrifice on the part of the 
church to an undeserving government. Actually, the government was re- 


sponding to the requests of Mormon leaders for "any facilities for emigra- 
tion to the western coast which our government shall offer." 

On at least two occasions, Heber referred favorably to the battalion 
incident. "These military affairs," he said on the following July 17, "is 
now found by most all of the people acknowledged to be one of the great- 
est blessings that the Great God of heaven ever did bestow upon the peo- 
ple." 1S In 1855, in Utah, he declared to veterans at a reunion of the Mor- 
mon Battalion, "I know that [the Battalion] resulted in the salvation of this 
people, and had you not done this, we should not have been here." 

With the question of a pioneer group going west that fall eliminated 
by the formation of the Battalion, Young and Heber began in earnest to 
locate their winter quarters and to settle the Saints. Most of their search- 
ing was on the western side of the Missouri River on Indian lands disputed 
by the Omaha and Oto nations, the former having the best claim. The 
Omaha, unlike the Potawatomi, were indigenous to the Great Plains, hav- 
ing been there at least 200 years. They were a small tribe of only about 
1,500 and were known for their consistent friendliness to the whites. The 
Otos, on the other hand, were considered by both Indians and whites to be 
a mean and thieving people. Both tribes were basically farmers living in 
permanent earthen lodge villages. 

Chief Big Elk and the Omahas were agreeable to the Mormons set- 
tling among them: the Indians might benefit from Mormon expertise and 
what the Saints would leave behind, and the whites might afford them 
some help against an ancient enemy, the warlike Sioux, who frequently 
raided Omaha villages. 

Two temporary camps were made opposite Council Bluffs. The first 
was called Cutler's Park, after Alpheus Cutler, Heber's father-in-law, who 
selected it that August. It was soon decided, however, that Cutler's Park 
was not suitable, and another campsite was selected in early September, 
three miles closer to the river. Here, in present-day Florence, Nebraska, 
the Saints finally built their Winter Quarters, the "Mormon Valley Forge." 
(A pretty story claims that the community was named after Brigham 
Young's favorite plural wife, but none of Brigham's twenty-seven wives 
was so named.) Winter Quarters was a city of 631 houses, some of logs 
and some of "prairie marble" or sod, and 3,483 people. » 


1. The "Law of Adoption," which seems to have commenced in Nauvoo in 
1842, permitted church leaders to graft onto their families other men and their 

The Trek across Iowa 141 

families in order to increase their posterity in this life and the next. Heber even- 
tually adopted Hosea Cushing, William A. King, Howard Egan, Daniel Davis, 
James Smithies, Jacob Frazier, George Billings, Charles Hubbard, and three sailors 
from Denmark, Hans C. Hansen, Peter O. Hansen, and John Forsgren. Later dur- 
ing the Utah period too much competition in "Kingdom-building" grew out of this 
practice and it was abandoned. As late in 1880-82, however, Heber's son Abra- 
ham Alonzo had fifty-four men, women, and children posthumously adopted by 
his father. A. A. Kimball family records, in author's possession. 

2. Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1846-4-/, 57-58. 

3. Juanita Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout, 
1844-61 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1964), i23n. See also Dale 
Morgan as cited by John D. Unruh, Jr., in The Plains Across: The Overland Emi- 
grants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60 (Urbana: University of Illinois 
Press, 1979), 422. Compare Deuteronomy 23: 12-15. m reading more than 700 
pioneer journals for the period 1831-69 I found no other reference to this matter, 
which Victorian Americans considered taboo. 

4. Four horses, however, were lost through carelessness. 

5. H. C. Kimball, Journal, Apr. 14, 1846, Church Archives. 

6. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 12 (Jan. 15, 1884), 127. 

7. Ibid. (Feb. 1, 1884), 135. What apparently was the first example of the 
blessing of sick animals took place earlier, on Feb. 14, when William HalPs horse 
sickened with bloating and colic. Citing the prophet Joel, who said that in the last 
days the Lord would pour out his spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28), some of the 
brethren laid hands on the animal and blessed it. It recovered. The much more 
famous similar incident involving the ox of Mary Fielding (one of Heber's wives) 
took place in 1848 (see below, p. 182). 

8. H. C. Kimball to Joseph Heywood, May 12, 1846, typescript in author's 

9. H. C. Kimball, Journal, June 7, 1846, Church Archives. 

10. "Brother Joseph Toronto, the only Italian man in the church, made 
mother a present of some lemons and oranges and a little wine; he had come from 
the City of Joseph in 9 days by hiring a man to bring him on." H. C. Kimball, 
Journal, June 23, 1846. 

11. Leonard J. Arrington, Charles C. Rich: Mormon General and Western 
Frontiersman (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1974), 98. 

12. Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-81, M234, roll 
216, Council Bluffs Agency, 1844-46, frame 497, June 29, 1846, National Ar- 
chives, Washington, D.C. 

13. To protect themselves the Mormons requested written permission from 
Allen. He gave them the following statement (which he also sent to Washington): 
"The Mormon people having on due application raised and furnished for the ser- 
vice of the United States a Battalion of Volunteers to move with the Army of the 
West in our present war with Mexico — and many of the men comprising the Bat- 
talion having to leave their families in the Pottawatomi Country — the written per- 
mission to a portion of the Mormon people to reside for a time on the Potta- 


watomi lands obtained from the Indians on my request is fully approved by me 
and such of the Mormon people as may desire to avail themselves to this privilege 
are hereby fully allowed to do so during the pleasure of the President of the United 
States. July 16, 1846, Capt. James Allen." Ibid., frame 539. 

Despite Allen's assurances, there seems to have been some effort to remove 
the Mormons from these Indian lands, for on Aug. 14 the Superintendent of In- 
dian Affairs in St. Louis wrote Washington, "If the Government decided to drive 
them from the Indian Country it has not the physical force at this time on the 
border, but I cannot believe that it is willing to force these poor, deluded people 
into the wild prairie to die of starvation." Ibid., frame 504. 

14. Arrington, C. C. Rich, 104. 

15. H. C. Kimball, Journal 90, July 14, 1846, Church Archives. 


The Staging Ground at Winter Quarters 

At Winter Quarters Heber first consolidated and housed his sprawling 
family and many dependents. Upon his arrival on the Missouri in June, 
Heber had twenty-two wagons and about twenty-eight people with him 
living in the wagons and tents. Among them were seven wives — Vilate, 
Christeen Golden, Sarah Ann Whitney, Sarah Lawrence, Harriet Sanders, 
Ellen Sanders, and Mary Houston; the other wives who had left Nauvoo 
with him were apparently scattered among different families. With him at 
Winter Quarters were also Vilate's four young sons, as well as William and 
his wife and daughter; Helen and her husband; Vilate's niece, Jennette 
Murray; several older adopted children; and a few others assigned to his 
care — Merrit Rockwell, brother of Orrin Porter Rockwell, one-time body- 
guard to Joseph Smith and frontiersman extraordinaire, and some English 
converts of 1837, James Smithies and his wife and daughter Mary. 

Also, from time to time, some of the wives and children Heber had 
left in Nauvoo came west. During that summer he was joined by Presendia 
Huntington and perhaps her son George, by another husband; Frances 
Swan and her daughter Margaret Jane; Lucy Walker and her daughter 
Rachel; Sarah Peak and her three daughters, Betsy and Harriet by a pre- 
vious husband and Sarah Hellen, Heber's daughter; Clarissa Cutler and 
son Abraham; Emily Cutler and son Isaac; Mary Ann Shefflin; Ruth A. 
Reese; Mary Fielding; Mary Ellen Harris; and the sisters Ann Alice and 
Amanda Gheen. Heber's "camp" eventually consisted of z66 individuals 
over the age of twelve, 235 wagons, and some 1,600 animals. 1 By the end 
of 1846 Heber had at least twenty-five of his wives and twelve of his chil- 
dren with him in Winter Quarters, but not necessarily under his immedi- 
ate care. Other wives were probably with him, but they are not mentioned 
in the records. In October Vilate's brother William and his wife arrived 
from Nauvoo. Throughout the period between leaving Nauvoo and set- 



tling in Salt Lake City, it is hard to keep track of just how many were in 
Heber's "family." 

On the frontier Heber's full responsibility for the material and spir- 
itual well-being of perhaps 300 people was exhausting. He was under con- 
stant strain. For his good as well as theirs he called a special family meet- 
ing, at which time he organized them, and rather patriarchally added, "I 
have become your father and I am your priest, your head, your prophet, 
your apostle and your revelator, and from no other man can you receive 
revelation, either now nor in eternity. And I want your prayers that I may 
have wisdom, and that I may have visions, dreams, and revelations, and 
that 1 may live long and your mother also." 

Heber wore no hair shirt, courted no martyrdom. He wanted the best 
this life had to offer him and his. "I don't want to die," he said, "no I want 
[to] live and see all my children as rich so they can pay out gold by the 
bushels to pave the streets." 2 

To house such a large family, Heber eventually built one large two- 
story home and a series of single-story "row houses." The big house had 
four rooms on the first floor and two upstairs. The row houses were single 
rooms made of logs, with sod roofs, sod chimneys, and dirt floors; each 
room had one door and one four-pane window. 

In the largest house Heber, Vilate, and their four little boys lived in 
one room; William, his wife, and their children in another; three young 
adopted men in one; two young adopted women in one; and two other 
wives in one. Just who lived in the row houses and exactly how many there 
were we do not know, but Mary Ann Sheflin lived in one, Sarah Ann 
Whitney had one, Helen and Horace had one, and another was used as a 
storeroom. 3 Christeen Golden apparently lived with the Grant family, 
Clarissa and Emily Cutler lived with their parents, Presendia Huntington 
kept house for Joseph and Henry Woodmansee, and Mary Ellen Harris 
stayed with Heber's son William. Other members of the family lived in 
tents and wagons. At one time Frances Swan, Laura Pitkin, and Presendia 
Huntington lived together. 

Such crowded and primitive living conditions inevitably caused fric- 
tion. Lucy Walker complained to William Clayton how some members of 
the Kimball family treated her; Sarah Lawrence left Heber's group and 
moved in with the Youngs; and one "female member of his family had spo- 
ken evil of him and opened her cares to other Woman or Women, who 
goes about for such purposes." Heber did not take such things casually. He 
chastized, counseled, and encouraged often that difficult fall and winter. 
He admitted fatigue from so many cares over the "wicked" and the "con- 

The Staging Ground at Winter Quarters 145 

trary spirit among the people." 4 The Saints were very human and the 
heads of polygamous households had much to contend with. The farther 
the modern Moses led the Saints from the comfortable homes they had been 
forced to abandon, the longer and more grim the sojourn in the wilderness, 
the more the followers questioned their leaders. In bad as well as good the 
Mormons were much like their ancient prototypes. Heber had to advise 
them against carelessness, improvidence, slothfulness, vanity, murmuring 
or complaining, and finding fault with him, their kindred, and each other. 
He spoke against the problem of slander and backbiting and urged the 
young girls to read the Book of Mormon, the Bible, or other good books 
instead of spending so much time in foolishness. These perorations always 
ended with his blessings for peace, prosperity, and salvation. 5 

The winter of 1846—47 was grim. At least 300 died from various 
causes, adding to the number already dead from malaria and other fevers. 
Heber was sick on occasion from the constant strain. There was also some 
trouble with the Indians — mainly stealing. Brigham Young, unaffected by 
either Rousseau's romantic concern for the Noble Savage or the cruel 
belief that the only good Indian was a dead one, wisely decided it was 
cheaper to feed them than to fight them; he also warned Big Elk, chief of 
the Omahas, that any Indians caught stealing would be whipped — the 
same punishment meted out to white malefactors. (Since the Mormons 
had no jails, they found it necessary to practice corporal punishment for a 
few years.) Even Heber's nephew Carlos Murray was given fifteen lashes 
for stealing cattle from some non-Mormons on the trail west in 1848. 

Still, the Mormons made the best of things. They organized concerts, 
dances (even dancing lessons), songfests, feasts, festivals, and sleigh rides, 
and visited back and forth with the other whites across the river and 
downstream at Bellevue. On rare occasions they were treated to traveling 
entertainers. During February of 1847, for example, William McCarey, an 
"Indian Negro" and psychologically unbalanced Mormon claiming to be 
Adam, together with his wife played the flute, fife, saucepan, rattler, "36^ 
whistle" and performed as mimics. The Saints also handcrafted things to 
sell, such as willow baskets and washboards. 

And it is reassuring to know that life took its usual and ordained 
course even while crossing muddy Iowa in wagons, for on February 2 of 
that winter Vilate gave birth to another son, Solomon Farnham. She com- 
posed a revealing little poem after his birth: 

The Lord has blessed us with another Son which is 
the seventh I have born. 


May he be the father of many lives. But not the 
Husband of many Wives. 6 

In Winter Quarters Heber and Brigham received some unexpected 
and welcome information regarding the Mountain West. That November 
the famous Jesuit, Father Pierre Jean de Smet, stopped and visited with the 
Mormons. He was en route to St. Louis after spending five years in the 
mountains preaching to the Flathead Indians and was one of the few white 
men who had visited the Great Salt Lake. Taking full advantage of this 
good luck, the Mormons asked him every question they could think of. De 
Smet took it goodnaturedly and some years later wrote a brief account of 
this meeting. 7 

In early January, 1847, Heber and Brigham began readying a pioneer 
company to start for the Rocky Mountains that spring sometime between 
April 15 and May 30, which was the traditional time to head west. Part of 
Heber's preparations for his family consisted in calling some special Sun- 
day meetings. 8 In February he blessed six wives and their seven infants — 
Sarah Peak with Sarah Helen, Clarissa Cutler with Abraham, Emily Cut- 
ler, with Isaac, Sarah Ann Whitney with David, Lucy Walker with Rachel, 
and Vilate with Brigham and Solomon. 

At another meeting he scolded them for "going to an extreme in 
amusements, principally . . . dancing." He admitted that he himself loved 
to dance, but that it should not be overdone. To encourage his family in 
self-improvement he said, "Everyone has the greatest obstacle to govern 
himself. I have greater trouble to govern Brother Heber, and put self down 
than anything else." 

Finally, on Sunday, March 21, he called his last family meeting. This 
particular session was restricted to members of his immediate family, 
which by this time consisted of about fifty individuals, including eleven 
infants, and was for the purpose of giving instruction to those who would 
follow the pioneer group west later that summer in the Second Division or 
Big Company, as it came to be called. 

William Kimball and his adopted brother Daniel Davis were given the 
enormous responsibility of outfitting twelve of Heber's wives and eight 
other families with wagons, teams, and supplies. Heber was most explicit. 
With over 500 men away with the Mormon Battalion and nearly 150 
more preparing to leave, there would be few ablebodied men left behind to 
care for and protect the women and children. From this meeting we get 
some idea of the women Heber felt first responsibility for: the wives listed 
were Vilate, Sarah Peak, Sarah Ann Whitney, Ellen Sanders, Mary Ellen 

The Staging Ground at Winter Quarters 147 

Harris, Mary Ann Shcflin, Harriet Sanders, Christeen Golden, Presendia 
Huntington, the Gheen sisters, and Sarah Lawrence. Other women men- 
tioned were Jennette Murray, Mary Forsgren (whose husband was with 
the Battalion), Melinda Miller, Alice Martin, Harriet Dilworth, a Sister 
Hess, and a Sister "Havath" (probably his future wife Elizabeth Doty Cra- 
vath Murray Brown). Why those particular women were specified is not 
known. Perhaps Heber thought they were those best able to spend that 
winter in the Valley and he planned on bringing the rest west when the 
final trip was made in 1 848. Helen was to travel with her husband's family. 

For reasons that are not at all clear, however, only three of his family 
went west in the Second Division. Perhaps at the last minute it was decided 
that none should be part of the Second Division save those able to sustain 
themselves in the Great Basin until a crop could be harvested. Or it might 
have been that William and Daniel failed to get wagons and teams ready in 
time, or perhaps the women, knowing Heber would not be staying in the 
Valley, wisely elected to spend that winter in the relative security of Winter 
Quarters and let him worry about getting them all west in 1848. (Davis's 
diary suggests that they were much too busy just staying alive to get ready to 
go west.) 

In any case, from April, 1847, through September, 1848, the Kimball 
family was very scattered, and when Heber left Winter Quarters for the 
Great Basin in April, 1847, he took with him but one wife, Ellen Sanders; 
his son-in-law Horace Whitney; Vilate's nephew Carlos Murray; and five 
of his adopted sons, Howard Egan, William A. King, Hosea Cushing, 
George W. Billings, and Hans C. Hansen. Of this group, only Ellen San- 
ders and Hans Hansen remained in the Salt Lake Valley through the first 
winter. Only Mary Ellen Harris, Peter Hansen, and Mary Forsgren fol- 
lowed him west that year in a later company. Mary's husband presumably 
would be waiting for her in the Valley; Mary Ellen at the last minute de- 
cided to accompany her mother and stepfather; and Peter probably went 
along for adventure. The bulk of the Kimball family remained in Winter 
Quarters until the 1848 trek west. 

Some idea of the staggering logistics of preparation for such a venture 
may be gained from the following inventory, detailed to the last half-cent, 
of just what Heber assembled and transported in his six wagons: 

Teams belonging to H. C. Kimball: Horses 5, mules 7, oxen 6, cows 
2, dogs 2, wagons 6. List of provisions: Flour 1228 lbs., meat 865 
lbs., sea biscuit 125 lbs., beans 296 lbs., bacon 241 lbs., corn for 
teams 2869 lbs., buckwheat 300 lbs., dried beef 25 lbs., groceries 
290/4 lbs., sole leather 15 lbs., oats ro bus., rape 40 lbs., seeds 71 


lbs., cross-cut saw 1, axes 6, scythe 1, hoes 3, log chains 5, spade 1, 
crowbar 1, tent 1, keg of powder 25 lbs., lead 2.0 lbs., codfish 40 lbs., 
garden seeds 50 lbs., plows 2, bran 3 'A bus., 1 side of harness leather, 
whip saw 1, iron 16 lbs., nails 16 lbs., 1 sack of salt 200 lbs., saddles 
2, 1 tool chest, 6 pairs of double harness . . . Total $i,59z.8y l /i. 9 

Apparently the original idea by design or accident (but in any case 
consonant with the tendency of Mormons to pattern themselves after the 
ancient House of Israel) was to hand pick and outfit 144 men — twelve for 
each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Not all of the men selected were Mor- 
mons, however, and there were also three black slaves or servants of 
southern members. 10 Collectively they had a variety of pioneering talents 
and skills. There were mechanics, teamsters, hunters, frontiersmen, car- 
penters, sailors, soldiers, accountants, bricklayers, blacksmiths, wagon- 
makers, lumbermen, joiners, dairymen, stockmen, millers, and engineers 
— varying in ability, temperament, and saintliness, they represented a cross 
section of humanity. 

The numerical symmetry was not important. Even before the group 
left Winter Quarters three women and two children were added and a few 
days later one sick man returned to Winter Quarters. En route nineteen 
men left the Pioneers on other assignments and thirty persons were added. 
So the original 144 was augmented by 35 and decreased by 20, leaving a 
net gain of 1 5 . Entering the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in July, 1 847, was 
a final group of 159 members. 


1. H. C. Kimball, Journal 90, Aug. 18, 1846, Church Archives. 

2. lbid. y June 28, 1846. 

3. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 13 (Feb. 15, 1885), 139. 

4. From the H. C. Kimball Journal for that period. 

5. Ibid. 

6. Mary Haskins Parker Diary, Feb. 10, 1857, typescript, University of Utah, 
Salt Lake City. 

7. As cited by Lelland H. Creer, The Founding of an Empire (Salt Lake City: 
Bookcraft, 1947), 167-68. De Smet almost visited the Mormons again. In 1858 he 
was one of three chaplains appointed to the army in Utah. He was, however, re- 
called en route in present-day Nebraska. One suspects that his presence in Utah 
would have bettered Mormon and army relations. 

8. From H. C. Kimball Journal for that period. 

9. Howard L. Egan, Pioneering the West (Richmond, Utah: Howard R. Egan 
estate, 1917), 2.4. 

The Staging Ground at Winter Quarters 149 

10. They were Green Flake, a member of the church who died in Idaho; Os- 
car Crosby, who died in Los Angeles in 1870; and Hark Lay, who lived for many 
years in Salt Lake City. In 1848 twenty-four Blacks came to Utah with the new 
settlers. Although it has been stated that one of these Blacks, Martha Crosby, who 
later married Green Flake, was brought to Utah by Heber C. Kimball (see Jack 
Beller, "Negro Slaves in Utah," Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 2 [1929], 122-26), 
I have found no evidence to support this. Kimball did, however, employ Indians. 
An excellent study of Blacks in Utah is Ronald G. Coleman, "Blacks in Utah: An 
Unknown Legacy," in The Peoples of Utah, ed. by Helen Z. Papanikolas (Salt Lake 
City: Utah State Historical Society, 1976), 115-40. There is much confusion re- 
garding whether these three black Pioneers were freed before or after the Great 
Trek. In another study, Coleman argues cogently that they were slaves. See his 
"Blacks in Pioneer Utah, ] 847-69," UMOJA: A Scholarly Journal of Black Stud- 
ies, n.s. 2, (Summer 1978), 96-1 10. 


Westward to Laramie 

The 1847 Pioneer trek from "civilization to sundown" took a few days to 
get properly under way, as in 1846 when the Camp of Israel left Nauvoo. 
Heber moved three wagons out on April 5, but returned to Winter Quar- 
ters to meet with John Taylor, who had just arrived from England with 
some specially ordered scientific instruments for Orson Pratt. The elite, 
fast-moving, well-equipped, exploring band of Pioneers were not just tak- 
ing themselves to the Valley, they were charting a road which the Saints 
and others would use for more than twenty years. For this they needed 
sextants, a circle of reflection, artificial horizons, barometers, thermome- 
ters, and telescopes. (The Mormons became very much a part of what is 
now known as the "Great Reconnaissance" of the Far West.) On April 14, 
Brigham and Heber left Winter Quarters and joined the main camp, which 
was waiting for them on the Platte River, forty-seven miles west, near pres- 
ent-day Fremont, Nebraska. 

The unanticipated inclusion of three women and two children in an 
otherwise all-male venture was occasioned by the insistence of Brigham's 
younger brother Lorenzo that he be allowed to take his asthmatic wife, 
Harriet, and her two children, Isaac Decker (son by an earlier marriage) 
and John (Lorenzo's son). This of course necessitated including at least one 
or two other females to keep Harriet company. Fortuitously Brigham had 
married Harriet's daughter (also by the previous marriage) Clara Decker, 
so he took her. For Heber, taking Vilate was, of course, out of the ques- 
tion. She had five young sons, one of whom was an infant. So he took Ellen 
Sanders, his strong young Norwegian wife. 

In the beginning Heber and Brigham, like Uriah, the Hittite, may 
have decided to deny themselves their conjugal rights, for they occupied 
the same wagon. By early May, however, Heber was in a private wagon 
with Ellen, and their child, Samuel Chase, born February 3, 1848, was one 
of the first white births in the Salt Lake Valley. 


Westward to Laramie 1 5 1 

Ellen Sanders, nee Aagaat Ysteinsdatter Bakka, had come to the 
United States from Norway in 1837 and settled in a Norwegian colony in 
Illinois, near LaSalle, where she and her sister Harriet Sanders converted 
to Mormonism. They moved to Nauvoo, where they both eventually mar- 
ried Heber in 1844. 

These three women entered the Valley in 1847 with the Pioneers, but 
they were not the only women in the company. By then six females among 
the Mississippi Saints had joined them at Fort Laramie, so nine women 
and girls entered the Valley together. Unfortunately, history has recorded 
little of the activities of these women and children during the trek. In spite 
of the fact that most of Lorenzo Young's journal was kept by his wife, they 
remain only shadows. There are a few references to them — baking, wash- 
ing, being sick, Ellen Sanders almost setting a wagon on fire, Harriet 
Young's children being unhurt when a wagon overturned — but that is 
about all. It may be assumed that they did most of the cooking, washing, 
sewing, and nursing for the company. 

These women were not the first female pioneers; eleven women had 
been with Zion's Camp in 1834; seventy or so went with the Mormon Bat- 
talion; about thirty were laundresses. 

At the Platte River camp the group consisted of 148 people, 72 wag- 
ons, 93 horses, 66 oxen, 52 mules, 19 cows, 17 dogs, and some chickens. 
There they organized paramilitary fashion into units of 50s and 10s, each 
with its respective leaders. Their marching orders included the following: 
reveille at 5:00 a.m., departure at 7:30, one hour for lunch, camp at 6:30 
p.m., circle wagons, evening prayer at 8:30, and "taps" at 9:00. The Pi- 
oneers of 1847 were much better disciplined than was Zion's Camp of 
1834 or the crossing of Iowa in t 846. This was largely the result of a reve- 
lation given by Brigham Young on January 14, 1847 — the only revelation 
Young ever published. It began, "The Word and Will of the Lord con- 
cerning the Camp of Israel in their journey to the west," and is known 
today as Section 136 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Basically the revela- 
tion gave details on camp organization. 

For a variety of reasons, including expense, the Mormons never used 
professional guides or outfitters. They preferred to "trust in the Lord" and 
pick up trail savvy as they moved along. Men were appointed to scout the 
trail and others to ride along the front, flanks, and rear — guarding and 
enclosing the moving camp in a box-like formation. Neither persons nor 
animals could be allowed to roam. Disreputable whites and thieving Indi- 
ans had to be kept at a safe distance, and wolves had to be restrained from 
picking off stray or weakened animals. 

The scouting assignment was vital. Not that there was much chance 


of getting lost on the established trails the Mormons used, but water, feed, 
grades, crossings, and whatever might prove dangerous to man or beast 
had to be anticipated, found, and reported. Heber, partly because of his 
excellent horsemanship, often rode ahead as guide. Eight men were ap- 
pointed to hunt on horseback and eleven to hunt on foot. The Apostles 
were also permitted to hunt when they so desired. 

At this camp on Sunday, April 18, Ellis Eames returned to Winter 
Quarters because of ill health, and Heber took this opportunity to send a 
letter back to Vilate. This letter is interesting enough to be presented in 
full. The situation was unusual to say the least. Heber was heading west 
with one wife on a trip of undetermined duration to an uncertain place, 
leaving behind his first wife with five children and perhaps twenty-five 
other wives and their children with little financial security or male protec- 
tion. He obviously felt the need to try to cheer up Vilate, if not his entire 

Pioneers Camp on the Piatt 

April 16 
My Dear Vilate 

One word by my own hand. I am well and in good spirrits. So is the 
camp. Now my dear Vilate I Love you as true as I am cable of Loving 
according to my capasity for you do have the Love of my [yo]uth 
which is first Last and now and fore Ever. So be of good cheer my dear 
girl for you are blest and shall Even be blest in time and in Eternity. 
This is your privit Epistle so keeps it to you self. I feel to bless the[e] 
with all my heart in the name of the Lord with all my family praying 
to my Father in heaven to incircle them all in his arms and let peas 
[peace] and hea[l]th and life be and abide with them for Ever. Let 
Jenet Qennette Murray?] and Harriet [Sanders] stay with you. Let the 
rest come on in the Spring. Keepe my caul [council?] to your self. 
Without they refuse to obey, but you advise. Br. Whitney will ha[n]d 
Wm. one hundred dollars and one hundred to you. Pleas Keepe it 
privit from Wm. and all others. He has thirty or forty know [now]. 
With the one hundred more will pay all the demands. Keepe the rest 
till I com home without it is needed badly. If so hand out little at a 
time. If Hirum [Kimball] should send Enny [from Nauvoo] Keepe it. 
Use what you want fore your comfort. Take care of your self. I gave 
Sarah Noon five dollars. Keepe the presents Cournal [Thomas L.] 
Kane sent clost [close] till I come home. Without there is some choice 
thing you want fore [your] own dear self. All and Everything this 
Epistle contains and the contence keepe to your self and the articles I 
mention in it. Write when you get a chance. Tell the rest to do the 
same. Kiss and bless those little ones. Ellen [Sanders] wants [you] 

Westward to Laramie 1 5 3 

should write a long Leter to hur. She ses give my kind love to you. 
Now 1 must Stop for time. Now fare ye well my dear. 1 still remain 
your true Husband and friend in time and Eternity in the New and 
Everlasting covenant. 

H. C. Kimball 

To Vilate Kimball 

My dear Vilate since I rote this I have got a line from you. It was 
sweter than Honey to you[r] True Heber. My Lord bless the[e] with 
Every thing that can be bestowed on a woman. Thare is not a feeling 
but [the] finest the purest in this Brest towards the[e] my dear. My 
Soul ses bless the[e] fore Ever. Amen and Amen. 

H. C. K. 1 

Contrary to myth and popular belief, this 1847 trek of approximately 
1,073 miles and 1 1 1 days was not one long and unending trail of tears or a 
trial of fire. Over the decades Mormons have emphasized the tragedies of 
the trail, and tragedies there were. Between 1847 and the building of the 
railroad in 1869, perhaps as many as 6,000 died along the trail from 
exhaustion, exposure, disease, and lack of food. (Few were killed by In- 
dians.) To the vast majority, however, the experience was positive — a dif- 
ficult and rewarding struggle. Nobody knows how many Mormons mi- 
grated west during those years, but 60,000 in 10,000 vehicles is a close 

It is a curious fact that the Mormons, who did not want to go west in 
the first place, were the most successful in doing so. Mormons were not 
typical westering Americans: where others went for adventure, furs, land, 
a new identity, or gold, Mormons were driven west for their religious be- 
liefs. The first Pioneer group was not just concerned with getting them- 
selves safely settled, but in making the road easier for others to follow. 
Furthermore, the Mormons transplanted a whole people, a whole culture, 
not just isolated, unrelated individuals. They moved as villages on wheels 
and differed profoundly from the Oregon and California emigrants. Mor- 
mons were the most systematic, organized, disciplined, and successful pi- 
oneers in U.S. history. As to the old question about whether the trail 
should be called rightfully the Mormon Trail or the Great Platte River 
Road, Oregon Trail, California Trail, or something else, Stcgncr has given 
the best answer. "By the improvements they made in it," he wrote, "they 
earned the right to put their name on the trail they used. . . ." 2 

The experience of the trail, the crossing of the plains, became a great 
event, not only in the lives of the pioneers, but in the minds of their de- 


scendants. It became a rite of passage, the final test of faith. The contem- 
porary American Mormon is prouder of nothing more in his heritage than 
the fact that one or more of his ancestors "crossed the plains" for the sake 
of religious freedom before the coming of the railroad in 1869. (Those 
who came west by train are sometimes called "Pullman Pioneers.") 

Today a special mythology and clouds of glory surround these Pi- 
oneers. Many Mormons belong to the Sons of Utah Pioneers or the 
Daughters of Utah Pioneers, whereas no similar societies exist for other 
important groups, such as the founders, the original Apostles, or the mem- 
bers of Zion's Camp. Throughout the world Mormons regularly celebrate 
July 24, when Brigham and Heber entered the Valley in 1847, as Pioneer 

The real beginning of the trek of 1847 and the whole trans-Missouri 
Mormon migration to follow was at 7:30 on the morning of Monday, 
April 19. The company moved out from their staging area west of Winter 
Quarters and the grand adventure began. Kimball's pioneer journal for 
that day reads, "The morning fine and pleasant. At half past 7 we con- 
tinued our journey, the wagons traveling in double file by way of experi- 
ment . . . our route lay beside of a number of small lakes, where there were 
many ducks. The brethren shot some of them ... at 6 p.m. formed our 
encampment in a semicircle, on the banks of the river, where we have a 
pleasant view of the majestic 'Nebraska' or Platte river, which at this place 
appears to be a mile wide but very shoal . . . the evening was fine and very 

During the "nooning" of that same day, Orrin Porter Rockwell, who 
had been sent back to Winter Quarters to pick up some presents, arrived 
in camp. The gifts (perhaps the same mentioned in Heber's letter to Vilate) 
were from Colonel Thomas L. Kane, who had visited the Mormons in 
Winter Quarters, to the Twelve and a few others. Kane's list of these gifts 
has survived, and from it we learn that he sent Heber a medical chest con- 
taining cinchona and morphia, the standard drugs for the treatment of 
fever and pain. Other gifts to the Twelve included whips, scientific instru- 
ments, pictures, fishing tackle, maps, guns, compass, stomach pump, gun 
cotton, and thirty bottles of brandy. 3 

The Platte River, rising in Colorado and one of the largest branches of 
the Missouri, is very broad and shallow, a meandering, braided river 
which oldtimers used to say "flowed upside down," a reference to the 
many visible sandbars. One disgruntled pioneer remarked that it would 
make a pretty good stream if it were turned on its side. Travelers seemed to 

Westward to Laramie 155 

enjoy thinking up insults for the Platte. The consensus regarding this river 
was that it was a mile wide, six inches deep, too thick to drink, too thin to 
plow, hard to cross because of quicksand, impossible to navigate, too 
yellow to wash in, and too pale to paint with. 

For hundreds of miles the Pioneers hauled themselves across its flat, 
monotonous plain in present-day eastern Nebraska. During this phase of 
the trip, their journals are full of undramatic references to creeks, bits of 
wood they found, fish, birds, and game. 

Heber's journal reveals clearly the high adventure of the Pioneer 
crossing of the plains. His positive reaction accords well with others who 
had similar experiences. A study of 135 Pioneer journals written between 
1847 and 1S66 found "that none contained a negative assessment of the 
Great Plains as a region . . . but all diarists commented positively on the 
entire plains area they traversed." 4 After it was over, Heber said, "It was 
pretty hard and laborious, I admit; but it was one of the pleasantest jour- 
neys 1 ever performed." 5 

Heber's journal during the trek, from which much of the following 
was taken, should really be called the Kimball-Clayton Journal, for at 
Heber's request, William Clayton kept a journal for him which unfor- 
tunately reads very much like Clayton's own famous journal, expressing 
few of Heber's private thoughts. From it, however, we do learn of Heber's 
great zest for life and adventure as they went along, of his sensitivity to 
nature and his love of the land. He went hunting, riding, fishing, explor- 
ing, he investigated caves, climbed vertiginous promontories, rolled stones 
down steep mountains, stood guard, scouted, fought quicksand and prai- 
rie fire, was chased by a she-bear, amused himself by naming several 
creeks, and became acquainted with the Indians and the buffalo — "the po- 
etry and life of the prairie," as John C. Fremont noted. This journal re- 
counts the music, singing, dancing, and horseplay in camp and the varied 
diet of game. We know little of the evening, the nights, or the sidereal 
splendors which, without modern haze and artificial light, must have been 
awesome. Characteristically, if Heber had any worries or troubles on the 
trail he did not record them. He seems to have enjoyed the trek. 

There is some evidence that the Pioneers knew in advance that they 
were going into the Great Basin somewhere near its eastern rim, along the 
western slope of the Wasatch Mountains. As early as 1842, for example, 
Joseph Smith indicated that the Saints would go there, and as noted above, 
Brigham Young and Heber had studied Fremont's account and maps of the 
area. But into which of the several unclaimed valleys? En route, Brigham 
Young and Heber consulted with everyone they could about the area, in- 


eluding some famous mountain men — Moses Harris, Jim Bridger, and 
Miles Goodyear. It appears that as they moved toward and into the Great 
Basin they gradually decided to settle in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. 
The camp moved deliberately, casually, about two miles an hour, and un- 
der little pressure. Their best distance for one day was twenty-three and 
three-quarters miles, but they averaged only ten miles a day. There was no 
need to get to the mountains before winter snows had melted. 

The Mormons did very little trailblazing along the entire road from 
Nauvoo to the Valley. Wherever possible they followed existing roads and 
trails; most of their real pioneering was earlier, in western Iowa. West of 
Winter Quarters they followed generally what is sometimes called the 
Great Platte River Road, which from prehistoric times was known as the 
most advantageous approach to the easiest crossing of the Rocky Moun- 
tains, a trail which had been blazed by Indians, trappers, fur traders, and 
other emigrants. The Mormons were not looking for a place in history 
books. They had a job to do and they wanted to do it as simply, expedi- 
tiously, and conveniently as possible. 

The first section of the Mormon Trail from Winter Quarters was gen- 
erally along the north bank of the Platte River to near present-day Kear- 
ney, Nebraska. Up to this point in Nebraska the Mormon Trail and Ore- 
gon Trail were entirely separate. Along the second portion of the Mormon 
Trail, from Kearney to Fort Laramie, Wyoming, the Mormons remained 
on the north bank of the Platte and the Oregonians on the south. Since in 
the 1 840s the commonly used route to Oregon and California was along 
the south bank of the Platte, it might appear that the Mormons had pi- 
oneered the less frequently used north bank trail, but actually during the 
1 820s and 1830s the north bank had been the preferred way used by fur 
trappers and missionaries. And the improvements the Mormons made on 
the north side by the 1850s made it again a popular route. 

The third section of the trail was across modern Wyoming from Fort 
Laramie to Fort Bridger. Here the Mormons followed the Oregon Trail 
proper for 397 miles. The fourth and final section was from Fort Bridger, 
where the Oregon Trail turned north to the Pacific Coast *and where the 
Mormons left the Oregon Trail and picked up the year-old Reed-Donner 
track through the Rockies into the Salt Lake Valley. 

Topographically the trail led across the Central Lowlands, over the 
Great Plains into the Wyoming Basin, through the middle Rocky Moun- 
tains, into the Great Basin. The Mormons passed along river valleys, 
across plains, deserts, and mountains, several oceans of grasslands, sage- 
brush steppes, and through the western forests of Douglas fir and scrub 

Westward to Laramie 157 

oak. The modern traveler can still find many parts of the old trail. Much of 
the plains, deserts, mountains, steppes, and forests remain, but the Tall- 
grass Prairie is almost all gone, a victim of the white man's plow. 

On April zi along the Loup River, the Pioneers had their first meeting 
with a group of Great Plains Indians. Nomadic, warlike, mounted, power- 
fully built, and given to body paint and unusual hairstyles, they lived gen- 
erally in graceful tepees rather than in permanent earthen lodges or flimsy 
bush wickiups. By the mid-nineteenth century, unlike most of the eastern 
Indians, who were already only a memory, those of the Great Plains were 
simultaneously at full flower and on the edge of extinction, for they lay 
across the path of Manifest Destiny, in the way of the white man's rule 
from sea to shining sea. 

On this April day the Mormons met a band of Pawnees, the largest 
indigenous tribe in Nebraska, numbering as many as 10,000 people. The 
nation was centered on the Loup River near Fullerton and habitually de- 
manded gifts from white travelers near Shell Creek. Its braves were easily 
identifiable by their plucked eyebrows, painted faces, and heads shaved 
except for a narrow strip of hair from forehead to scalp lock, which stood 
up like a horn. Relatively trustworthy, they were often hired as guides. 

The Pioneers, who would meet other groups of Great Plains Indians 
such as the Sioux and the Crow, were entering the Great Plains at a time of 
great disorder and intertribal warfare. The inexorable push of the white 
man west had driven a jumble of eastern Indians onto the Great Plains, 
where they were considered invaders by the natives. During the period of 
the early Mormon migration, Indian life was further changed by military 
movements, the Mexican War, massive migration to Oregon and Califor- 
nia, the forty-niners, disease, and the deliberate extermination of the great 
buffalo herds. 

The Indian leader, Chief Shefmolan, rode up to Heber and demanded 
a gift. Wishing to be friendly and to establish good relations, Heber gave 
the chief some tobacco and salt. Whites usually considered the Indians to 
be beggars, but the Indians believed themselves to be merely extracting a 
sort of toll for permitting emigrants to cross their lands and disturb their 
game. The Plains Indians, furthermore, were open and generous with what 
they had and expected others to be. 

The vast expanse of the plains permitted excellent astronomical ob- 
servation. On the night of April 24, Orson Pratt set up his telescope and 
showed Heber and many others Jupiter's moons and probably the few ce- 
lestial bodies mentioned in the Bible: Arcturus, Orion, and the Pleiades. 


Perhaps the brethren debated which of all the visible stars might be Kolob, 
which, according to Mormon belief is one of the great governing stars, 
closest to the throne of God, so important that its revolutions determine 
"the reckoning of the Lord's time" at the traditional ratio of 1,000 years of 
earth time to one day with the Lord. 6 

Alternating with the beauty and majesty of the nights were the mun- 
dane realities of the days. Shortly after the astronomy lesson, when they 
were "scanted for wood," the Pioneers tried dry buffalo dung, euphe- 
mistically termed bois de vache, meadow muffins, or chips, for fuel. 

When properly managed, the chips served as a very good substitute 
for wood. The main objection to them, other than the aesthetic one, was 
that they burned too fast. Collecting chips was considered woman's work 
and was commemorated (along with romance) in at least one trail song. 

There's a pretty little girl in the outfit ahead 

Whoa Haw Buck and Jerry Boy 

1 wish she were by my side instead 

Whoa Haw Buck and Jerry Boy 

Look at her now with a pout on her lips 

As daintly with her fingertips 

She picks for the fire some buffalo chips 

Whoa Haw Buck and Jerry Boy. 

Heber invented a new furnace for burning these chips more slowly. 
He first dug a hole in the ground about 15 inches long and 8 inches deep, 
into which the dried chips were piled. Then at each end and about 8 inches 
from this he dug another hole about the same size and depth, and at the 
bottom of the partition made a hole about 3 inches in diameter, which 
made a good draft. 

On May 1 just west of what is today Kearney, Nebraska, the Pioneers 
sighted a herd (or, to pedantically use the proper noun of assembly, an 
obstinacy) of buffalo. Originally the animal had ranged from the Ap- 
palachians to the Rockies, but by 1820 had been driven west of the Mis- 
souri River. In 1847 the Mormons found them 200 miles farther west, 
along the Platte and Sweetwater rivers. A hunt was quickly organized and 
Heber decided to test his skills. According to one eyewitness: 

About this time Elder Kimball seemed to be inspired with the idea 
of chasing the buffalo and he immediately called for Egan's fifteen 
shooter and started with it on full gallop. . . . Heber joined just as the 
herd discovered them and commenced galloping off. 

At this time I got my glass and rested it on Brother Aaron Farr's 

Westward to Laramie 159 

shoulder, determined to see as much of the chase as possible. . . . The 
hunters closed in on the first party and commenced their fire, es- 
pecially at one cow which they finally succeeded in separating from 
all the rest, and determined to keep to her until they killed her. . . . 
The cow was now in close quarters and after she had been shot 
through two or three times, Elder Kimball rode close to her with his 
fifteen shooter and fired over his horse's head, she dropped helpless 
and was soon dispatched. At the report of the gun which was very 
heavy loaded, Elder Kimball's horse sprang and flew down the bluff 
like lightning and he having let go the lines to shoot, her sudden mo- 
tion overbalanced him and his situation was precarious to the ex- 
treme. . . . However, being a good horseman, he maintained his posi- 
tion in the saddle and soon succeeded after some time in reining in his 
horse and returned to the rest unharmed and without accident. 7 

The Mormons usually boiled, fried, or roasted their buffalo meat or 
made it into jerky (Spanish charqui) by cutting the meat into thin strips 
and drying it for future use. 

A few days later, on May 5, the Pioneers experienced another of the 
great natural phenomena of the plains — prairie fire, usually caused by dry 
lightning or Indians, a scourging wall of flame that, wind-driven, could 
reach a height of twenty feet, overtake a horse, and easily engulf a slow- 
moving ox train. Nebraska country was a great sea of grass which summer 
sun and winter frost regularly dried or killed, leaving it tinder to great fires 
every fall and spring. There are only two ways of fighting such a fire: with 
firebreaks or backfires. The Pioneers had time for neither. Heber, along 
with the others, quickly led his six wagons to a convenient island in the 
Platte and let the fire pass harmlessly by. The next day, although they may 
not have noted it, they passed the 100th meridian, beyond which there is 
insufficient rainfall for unirrigated farming, and entered the anteroom of 
the Great American Desert. 

West of Ash Hollow, a famous camping site on the Oregon Trail, the 
Mormons entered the Broken Lands of the Upper Missouri Basin, and the 
terrain became increasingly more interesting and varied. For eighty miles 
to Scotts Bluff the Pioneers traveled through what might be loosely called a 
monument valley. Along this stretch on both sides of the river are some of 
the most famous and dramatic topographical features of the Mormon and 
Oregon trails. Courthouse Rock, Chimney Rock, and Scotts Bluff guarded 
the Oregon Trail while Indian Look Out Point and Ancient Ruins Bluff 
sentineled the Mormon Trail. 

About twenty-one miles west of Ash Hollow, Heber killed two wolves, 
and the brethren found what they thought was the shoulder blade of a 


mammoth. They may have been right, for remains of both mammoths and 
mastodons were later found in many parts of Nebraska. The Pioneers were 
probably capable of recognizing the distinctive mammoth shoulder bone 
when they saw it, since some of them, including Heber, had visited St. 
Louis and may have seen Dr. Albert C. Koch's famous mammoth skeleton 
on exhibit there. 

On May 22 they made camp near the most impressive topographic 
site along the entire Mormon Trail, a place the Mormons called Ancient 
Ruins Bluff, located about eight miles northeast of present-day Lisco, 
Nebraska, on U.S. Highway 30. On Sunday, May 24, Brigham Young and 
others climbed the main bluff. While there, they wrote their names on a 
buffalo skull and left it on the southwest corner. Although not of a philo- 
sophical or reflective nature, Heber may well have stood at that corner, 
from which one can look farther yet see less than at any other site along 
the trail, and mused on what had brought him to that place, on his family 
in Winter Quarters, on the desolation of the country in which he must find 
a new home, and above all, on the mind and will of God and his relation- 
ship to Him. 

Later that Sabbath, Heber and Clayton walked about a quarter of a 
mile away from camp, where Heber looked over the journal Clayton was 
keeping for him. Then, as they kneeled down and prayed, a gust of wind 
carried Heber's hat away, but rather than interrupt their prayer, the devout 
Heber let it go. Afterwards, he had to chase it for nearly a mile. 

Along this same portion of the trail they engaged in some mock trials 
and elections. James Davenport, for example, was accused of "blocking 
the highway and turning ladies out of the way," and "Father" Chamber- 
lain was voted the most even-tempered man in camp — always cross and 
quarrelsome. 8 

On May 24, at their camp opposite Courthouse Rock, so named from 
its fancied resemblance to the St. Louis Courthouse, the Pioneers were vis- 
ited by a party of Sioux, certainly the largest of the Great Plains tribes and 
perhaps the most dominant. Proud, ferocious at times, the Sioux had de- 
veloped more than other tribes that system of "feather heraldry" by which 
eagle plumes proclaimed a brave's achievements; the shaping of a single 
eagle feather could denote any of seven different brave acts. 

"They all appeared well-dressed," noted the Kimball-Clayton Jour- 
nal, "in blankets and robes, variously ornamented with beads and paint- 
ings. All look clean and neat and are very noble looking men. Some had 
nice large shells suspended from their ears, and all w r ell-armed with rifles, 
muskets, etc. Their moccasins are very neatly made, clean, sit tight to the 

Westward to Laramie 161 

foot and ornamented with beads, and to view them from head to foot, for 
neatness and cleanness they will vie with the most tasteful whites." 

On May 26 they passed Chimney Rock — a principal milestone which 
(though only 425 miles from Winter Quarters) came to be considered sort 
of a halfway mark. This most familiar sight on the Oregon Trail was an 
eroded tusk of Brule clay jutting some 500 feet above the Platte. No one is 
known to have successfully climbed it, but there is one legend that an In- 
dian Brave, to win a bride, did reach the top, only to plunge to his death. 

On Friday, May 28, while opposite the massive formations of clay 
and sandstone called Scotts Bluff, Heber walked around the wagons of his 
division and was disturbed by the levity, gambling, and profane language 
he witnessed. By the time he had reached Appleton Harmon's wagon he 
had had enough. Calling the men together, he dressed them down "in lan- 
guage not to be misunderstood" and persuaded them "to conduct them- 
selves like men of God, or they would be sorry for it." 9 

Upset and not feeling well, Heber retired early. Later on, Brigham 
Young sent for him. Heber arose, dressed, and went over to Young's 
wagon, where Brigham told him of a revelation he had had in which he 
had been constrained by the Spirit "to call the camp to repentence." 10 
Heber then told Brigham what he had just done, and they discussed the 
matter until after midnight. They decided to call the whole camp to repen- 
tence on the morrow. Then they slept. 

The next day the two leaders remonstrated with those brethren who 
were giving way to trifling, dancing, and card playing and warned them in 
the name of the Lord against the spirit which many of the camp possessed, 
and called upon them to cease their folly and turn to the Lord their God 
with full purpose of heart to serve him. 11 Thereafter a more saintly at- 
mosphere prevailed in camp. These typical old-time Mormons could take, 
even thrive on, chastisement from the proper authority. 

The following day was Sunday and, just east of today's Wyoming 
state line near Henry, Young convened a special meeting of the Council of 
Fifty, of which at least eighteen of the Pioneers were members. They went 
out on the bluffs, clothed themselves in their temple robes and held a 
prayer circle to pray for guidance. 

That same day they spotted the pyramidal bulk of Laramie Peak 
looming regally above the "Black Hills" today's Laramie Mountains — the 
first mountains seen by westering Americans. A day later they passed out 
of present-day Nebraska and came upon a wagon track which led them to 
Fort Laramie thirty miles farther west. 



i. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Apr. 16, 1847. Original in possession of 
Mrs. Elwood G. Derrick. Used by permission. 

2. Stegner, The Gathering of Zion, 12. 

3. "For Whom of My Friends Each Intended," T. L. Kane Papers, Church 

4. Richard Jackson, "Mormon Perception and Settlement of the Great 
Plains," paper read at Images of the Plains Conference, Apr., 1973, University of 
Nebraska, Lincoln. 

5. Journal of Discourses, vol. 5 (Aug. 2, 1857), 132. 

6. Pearl of Great Price, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Books, 1952), Abra- 
ham 3 : 4. Cf. 2 Peter 3 : 8. 

7. William Clayton's Journal (Salt Lake City: Clayton Family Association, 
1921), 118-21. 

8. Ibid., 176. 

9. H. C. Kimball Journal, May 28, 1847, Church Archives. 

10. Fred C. Collier, comp., Unpublished Revelations of the Prophets and 
Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Salt Lake City: Col- 
lier's Publishing, 1979), 109. 

11. Watson, ed., Manuscript History ofBrighant Young: 1846-4-/, 555-56. 


And on to the Valley 

Fort Laramie has had at least three names. Founded in 1834 as Fort 
William, later called Fort John, by which name Heber knew it, it finally in 
1849 became Fort Laramie, after a French trapper, Jacques LaRamie. Thus 
far the Pioneers had suffered no deaths, little illness, and the loss of only 
four horses, two to the Indians and two accidentally killed — one was shot 
(loaded firearms kept in jolting wagons or held while on horseback 
claimed many a life needlessly on the frontier), the other fell into a ravine 
while tethered and broke its neck. 

While there in 1847 they rested their animals and themselves and pre- 
pared to pick up the Oregon Trail. This famous trail, the longest wagon 
road in history, the Main Street to the West, stretching over 2,000 miles 
from Independence, Missouri, to the Columbia River, had been blazed by 
Indians, trappers, and traders between 181 1 and 1839, by which time 
there were about 100 Americans in Oregon; by 1843 there were perhaps 
1, zoo. Thereafter, tens of thousands used the trail annually on the way to 
Oregon and California — perhaps as many as 3 50,000 to the coming of the 
railroad in 1869. Those going to California left the Oregon Trail at Soda 
Springs (in present-day Idaho). 

While at the fort the Pioneers were joined by seventeen advance mem- 
bers of the "Mississippi Saints" from Monroe County, Mississippi, who 
had been waiting for them for two weeks. Among this advance group were 
six females: Elizabeth Crow and her five daughters, four of them married. 
Their arrival probably pleased Hebefs wife Ellen. From these Mississippi 
Saints it was learned that most of their group and the soldiers of the Mor- 
mon Battalion too sick to pursue the march any farther (commonly called 
the Sick Detachment) were still at Fort Pueblo in modern Colorado. To 
help this group join the Pioneers in the Valley, Young dispatched four men 
to Fort Pueblo. This meant a net gain of thirteen individuals, bringing the 
number of the Pioneer group to 1 61 people and seventy-seven wagons. 



On Saturday, June 5, the Pioneers were ready to leave for the conti- 
nental divide at South Pass and Fort Bridger, which was 397 miles west. 
For a little over one month the Pioneers would be on the Oregon Trail 
along with several other "Gentile" companies with whom they would vie 
for the best campgrounds, feed, and priority in fording rivers. They would 
pass Mexican Hill, Register Cliff, Warm Springs Canyon, Laramie Peak, 
Red Buttes, the Avenue of Rocks, Independence Rock, Devil's Gate, Split 
Rock, the Ice Slough, Rocky Ridge, South Pass, Pacific Springs, and 
Church Butte (so named because Mormons are said to have held church 
services there). They would help deepen the now-famous trail ruts near 
Gurnsey, Wyoming, pass by the sites of the future handcart tragedies of 
1856, improve the road, and establish ferries on the Platte River at modern 
Casper and on the Green River. 

On their first day out from Fort Laramie they came to what is now 
called Mexican Hill. Heber may have been familiar with the frontier hy- 
perbole regarding this steep cut down the bluffs to the river. While de- 
scending, so the story went, if a tin cup fell out of a wagon it would land in 
front of the oxen. Two days later, near Horseshoe Creek, Heber discovered 
a large spring which he named after himself. 1 On Sunday, June 13, while at 
their ferry on the Platte (frequently referred to as "Last Crossing"), they 
established a permanent ferry, for the Saints who would follow and as a 
money-making venture. Ten men were left behind to operate and maintain 
what soon became known as Mormon Ferry. 

When the Pioneers left on June 19, they quit the Platte for good. From 
the Elk Horn to Last Crossing they had generally followed its gentle valley 
for more than 600 miles. The easy part of the trek was over, as the next 
fifty miles would prove. The stretch from Last Crossing through Emigrant 
Gap to the Sweetwater River near Independence Rock was the worst sec- 
tion of the whole trail between Nauvoo and Salt Lake Valley: a "Hell's 
Reach" of few and bad campsites, bad water, little grass, one steep hill, 
swamps, and stretches of alkali flats. The cattle had poor purchase; their 
tender hooves cracked, and some, including the ox of Mary Fielding, al- 
most gave out in 1848 on this part of the trail, where desiccated oxen car- 
casses soon became a familiar sight. But the Pioneers endured and lived to 
enjoy refreshing draughts of the Sweetwater River, which acquired its 
name either from American trappers because of its contrast with the other 
brackish streams in the vicinity, or from French voyageurs, who called it 
the Eau Sucree because a pack mule loaded with sugar was lost in its 
water. This small, gentle, beneficent river, which all Oregonians and Mor- 
mons followed for 109 miles to South Pass, made it possible for travelers 

And on to the Valley 165 

to reach their destination in one season, avoiding a winter in such hostile 

Like all travelers before and after them, the Pioneers stopped to climb 
the huge turtle-shaped Independence Rock; some carved or painted their 
initials or names into and on it. 

Four and a half miles west was the equally famous Devil's Gate, an- 
other popular resting place on the trail. Its name derives from the notion 
that the formation bears the profiles of twin petrified genii. It is a 1,500- 
foot-long, 370-foot-deep gap in a rocky spur through which flows the 
Sweetwater. Heber tried to ride his horse through it but the current was 
too fast. He humorously commented that the devil would not let him. Ac- 
cording to Shoshoni and Arapahoe legend, the gate was formed by an evil 
spirit in the form of a tremendous beast with tusks which, when trapped 
by the Indians, ripped open the gate and fled. (An earthquake is the more 
probable and prosaic cause.) 

Emigrant children, including the Mormons, had great fun here, 
climbing to the top of the gate and tumbling rocks down into the river, 
firing guns to hear the marvelous reverberations, or leaning over the side 
and trying to see the bottom. This last feat was particularly dangerous — to 
do so several individuals had to form a human chain holding hands, per- 
mitting the end person to hang over the precipice at a perilous angle. 

On June 27 they crossed the flat, almost imperceptible 7,750-foot- 
high continental divide at South Pass, the "Cumberland Gap" of the Far 
West. Travelers had to reach this pass by July 4 in order to get to their 
destination in Oregon before winter. At Pacific Springs, immediately west 
of South Pass, the Pioneers refreshed themselves and their animals. These 
famous springs, so named because their waters flowed to the Pacific 
Ocean, were the recognized beginning of the sprawling and ill-defined 
Oregon Territory. A few miles farther on the aptly named Dry Sandy, they 
met the first of the mountain men, Moses Harris, with whom they con- 
sulted about their destination. Harris, who had roamed the West for 
twenty-five years, did not think much of the country around the Great Salt 
Lake; he said it was barren, sandy, and destitute of timber and vegetation 
except wild sage. Heber learned quickly to approach most mountain men 
upwind, for they generally considered cleanliness as bad as godliness; their 
idea of a bath was to place their clothing on an anthill and let the ants eat 
off the lice and nits. On the next day, still on the Dry Sandy, the Pioneers 
met the famous Jim Bridger, who was on his way to Fort Laramie, and 
spent some time with him discussing the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. The 
great scout, who had gone west in 1824, could neither read nor write, and 


was so "likered up" he could hardly sit on his horse. The Pioneers could 
no: make much out of what he tried to tell them. Literally and figuratively 
in good spirits. Bndger undoubtedly told Heber and others one or more of 
his ramous tall tales, like the one about the glass mountain strewn about 
wuh the corpses of animals which had killed themselves running into it 
headlong, or the one about petrified birds singing in a petrified forest, per- 
haps the one about a stream which ran so fast it cooked the trout in it, or 
about the day he threw across the Sweetwater a rock which just kept on 
growing until it became Independence Rock, and maybe the story of the 
time some Indians chased him up a narrow canyon closed at the head by a 
icc-foot-high waterfall. "And how did you escape. Jim?" the Mormons 
may have asked. "I didn't." he'd have answered, "they scalped me." 

This camp was also the setting of Bridgets well-known challenge that 
he would give a thousand dollars for a bushel of corn raised in the Great 
Basin. For his help Youns save Bridser a pass for the Mormon fern* on the 

June 29 was a banner day: the Mormons made the best distance of 
the whole crossing — twenty-three and three-quarters miles, against an 
overall average of ten miles per day. Such a distance was covered only be- 
cause there was no water between the Dry Sandy and the Sandy. 

By July 5 at the Green River camp. Heber had seen enough of what 
they called "camp or mountain fever" to become alarmed. He rushed a 
letter of warning and advice back to the Second Division, where he as- 
sumed some members of his family were. "It affects." he wrote, "the eyes, 
back and in short the whole system with aches and pains, in most cases 
accompanied with a sickness at the stomach: it has no appearance of being 
fatal, and only lasts generally from 1 to 5 days: as far as we can judge it is 
brought on or caused mainly by the sudden change from hot to cold and 
rrom too hot to cool, against which we have not been sufficiently on our 
guard." 1 Heber himself was spared, but not Bngham Young. "This dreaded 
rever was almost undoubtedly Colorado tick fever — an acute infection 
bringing on chills, fevers to 104 degrees, pains in the muscles and joints, 
and the eruption of a rash of livid spots — and not the more serious Rocky 
Mountain spotted fever. 

On July 1 the number of Pioneers was reduced by another five men, 
who returned to help guide the other companies which were following 
into the Valley. For some reason, probably haste, it appears that the Pi- 
oneers did not celebrate the Glorious Fourths On the next day they were 
joined by thirteen members of the Mormon Battalion Sick Detachment — 
bringing the total to 159 souls. 

Finally, on the afternoon of July -. they arrived at Fort Bndger. a 

And on to the Valley 167 

poorly built ramshackle adobe establishment on Blacks Fork of the Green 
River put up in 1842 to service emigrants on the Oregon Trail. The Pi- 
oneers tarried at this straggling place just long enough to do some trading 
and repair their wagons, especially the running gear and wheels. Heber 
"chored around," carefully checking for loose tires, cracked or broken 
spokes and felloes, weakened axles, loosened bolsters, broken braces and 
chains, worn hubs and brakes, and broken bows and torn tops. He also 
exchanged two rifles for twenty buckskins, which he considered a good 

At 8:00 a.m. on Friday, July 9, the Pioneers quit the Oregon Trail, 
which there turned north, and began the last leg of their journey, follow- 
ing Hastings Cutoff, the barely visible track left through the Rockies by 
the Reed-Donner party of 1846, which perished in the Sierra snows. Even 
with the trailblazing done by the Reed-Donner party, it took the Pioneers 
sixteen days and ten camps to traverse the it6 miles between Fort Bridger 
and the Salt Lake Valley. 

Their second day out of Fort Bridger they met a third mountain man, 
Miles Goodyear, passed a pure-water spring, a sulphur spring, and an oil 
spring. (All that this oil meant to Heber was something with which to lu- 
bricate his wagon wheels — the commercial use of black gold lay some 
dozen years in the future.) Then they entered the beginning of a ninety- 
mile-long natural highway, a chain of defiles (including Coyote Creek Can- 
yon, Cache Cave Creek Draw, Echo Canyon, Weber River Valley, Main 
Canyon, East Canyon, Little Emigration Canyon, and finally Emigration 
Canyon) which meandered through the forbidding Wasatch Range of the 
Rockies into the Valley as if an ancient Titan had dragged a stick through 
the area. 

By noon on July 12, they had made midday camp along Coyote 
Creek, about one mile east of a prominent and strange formation of con- 
glomerate rocks called the Needles, or Pudding Rocks, and about one and 
a half miles east of the present Wyoming-Utah border. Here Young was 
suddenly stricken with tick fever. He remained ill for nearly two weeks, 
during which time Heber took over the direction of the Pioneer camp. In 
the hope that Young would be well enough to travel the next day, Heber 
and a few others remained at the Coyote Creek camp and sent Parley Pratt 
and the main company on. On July 13, however, it was obvious that 
Young was worse, not better. Heber then rode forward to the main camp 
six and three-quarters miles ahead near Cache Cave and suggested that 
Pratt drive on to hunt out and improve a road. 

For the rest of the journey the Pioneers split into three groups — 
Pratt's vanguard blazing the trail, the main portion following, and a rear 


guard which stayed with Brigham and Heber. Pratt's company sighted the 
Valley on July 19 and scouted it on the 21st; on the 22nd at about 5:30 
p.m. the main company arrived in the Valley via what came to be called 
Emigration Canyon. Early the next morning the group moved about two 
miles northwest and made camp on the south fork of City Creek, in the 
area of today's City Hall Park. There they dammed up the water and be- 
gan plowing, planting potatoes, and irrigating. 

Meanwhile, back on Coyote Creek, Heber and a few others went to 
the top of the Needles and offered up prayers for the sick, and on July 1 5, 
Young was well enough to travel in Wilford Woodruff's carriage. Shortly 
thereafter they crossed Hog's Back at the summit of Main Canyon (west of 
present-day Henefer) and caught the traveler's traditional first view of the 
continent's backbone, the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountain Cor- 
dillera. Despite this disheartening assurance that the worst of the moun- 
tain passes still lay ahead, Heber probably thrilled at this awesome sight of 
nature in her western majesty and realm, this view of light playing on dis- 
tant peaks. 

On the morning of July 23, the Young-Kimball detachment left Mor- 
mon Flats on East Canyon Creek and began the final section of the trail — 
up Little Emigration Canyon and over Big Mountain Pass, over Little 
Mountain, and down Emigration Canyon. The Kimball-Clayton Journal 
noted, "The road [up Little Emigration Canyon] in some places is rough 
and rocky and on side hills which makes bad traveling. The road lays 
through many thickets of underbrush, and forests of hemlock and poplar 
trees. After traveling 4V4 miles we arrived at the summit of the mountain 
[Big Mountain] from whence we had a fine view of the snowy mountains 
and the valley of the Salt Lake in the distance south west." 

As Heber crossed the 7,400-foot-high Big Mountain pass he entered 
his new homeland, the Great Basin — a vast and forbidding area of over 
200,000 square miles lying generally between the crests of the Sierra Ne- 
vada and the Wasatch Mountains, including parts of Utah, Nevada, Cal- 
ifornia, Oregon, and Idaho, and inhabited only by various tribes of Great 
Basin Indians. It is a natural basin. What streams and rivers there are, such 
as the Humboldt, Jordan, Provo, and Weber, have no access to the sea. 
They flow into the Great Salt Lake, into sinks, or disappear by evaporation 
and percolation. The area is spotted with such unattractive places as Salt 
Marsh Lake, Little Salt Lake, Fossil Lake, and the Humboldt Sink. 

Until the Mormons arrived this region had never known a white mas- 
ter. Imperial Spain, which had claimed it by right of discovery, had done 
nothing with it for centuries. England and France had never even fought 

And on to the Valley 169 

for it. The Mexicans, who took it from Spain in 1821, generally consid- 
ered it a worthless waste separating more desirable lands. For perhaps four 
billion years the Great Basin had bent all to its inexorable will — adjust or 
perish. In 1847 the Mormons decided to make the Great Basin serve them, 
and they did it on ancient principles worked out in Mesopotamia and 
among the Incas — centralized organization, division of labor, and a chain 
of command, all on an agricultural basis with controlled irrigation at its 

Roughlocking their rear wheels with chains and attaching drag shoes 
(wagon brakes were not then in general use), the Pioneers slid down Big 
Mountain and a few hours later ascended Little Mountain. At 5:00 that 
afternoon, suffering much from heat and dust, they were in Emigration 
Canyon, at Last Camp. 

The next day was July 24 — the second most important day in the 
Mormon calendar — the marking of the official entrance into the Valley. 
(The first is April 6, the day Joseph Smith formally organized the church 
and the day on which Mormons believe Christ was born.) Of this day the 
Kimball-Clayton Journal recorded: "Saturday 24. We started early this 
morning and found the road very rough and uneven to the mouth of the 
Kanion which is 4^/4 miles from where we started . . . we beheld the Great 
Valley of the Salt Lake spreading before us ... we arrived amongst the 
brethren at a quarter past 12 having traveled today i2y 4 miles ... we 
found the brethren very busy stocking and preparing plows, and several 
plows to work." 

Young's own journal entry was equally prosaic. "I started early this 
morning," he wrote, "and after crossing Emigration Kanyon Creek eigh- 
teen times emerged from the kanyon. Encamped with the main body at 2 
p.m.*** Likewise Wilford Woodruff, an indefatigable diarist, noted only 
that "President Young expressed his full satisfaction in the appearance of 
the Valley as a resting place for the Saints, and was amply repaid for his 
journey/' 4 It was a few days, however, before the final decision was made 
to settle where they were. On July 25 William Clayton noted in his jour- 
nal, "We shall go tomorrow if Brigham is well enough, in search of a better 
location — if indeed such can be found — if not we shall remain here." Brig- 
ham Young's illness prevented any further searching and by July 28 Clay- 
ton recorded, "The brethren are more and more satisfied that we are 
already on the right spot," and Norton Jacob noted in his journal that 
Young said, "I know this is the right spot. I knew this spot as soon as I saw 
it." Thirty-three years later, after Young was dead, during the excitement 
of Mormonism's fifty-year jubilee in 1880, Woodruff embellished the 
events of July 24, 1847, with the following afterthought: President Young 


"was enwrapped in vision for several minutes. He had seen the Valley be- 
fore in vision, and upon this occasion he saw the future glory of Zion and 
of Israel, as they would be, planted in the valleys of these mountains. 
When the vision had passed, he said: 'It is enough. This is the right place, 
drive on.'" 5 Such was the origin of the most famous single statement in 
Mormon history (but little known in Young's day): "This is the place." 

The event is commemorated today by a large granite monument at the 
mouth of Emigration Canyon honoring the Pioneers and pre-Mormon ex- 
plorers and trappers. Atop a huge shaft thrusting from the center of the 
base stand larger-than-life-sized figures of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kim- 
ball, and Wilford Woodruff, serenely and eternally contemplating their 

July 24, 1847, is the traditional pivot in Mormon history — every- 
thing is related to and from this date. The return trip to Winter Quarters, 
the winter there, and especially the 1848 trek west are usually ignored in 
Mormon historiography. But Heber and Brigham and most of the original 
Pioneers spent only thirty-three days in the Valley in 1847. This biography 
must follow Heber for another fourteen months before the Utah part of 
his story can properly begin. 

Place of revelation or not, the Valley was the first site suitable for 
Kingdom-building which the Pioneer leaders had seen since Nauvoo. It 
was vast, isolated, and fertile enough to look like the "Promised Valley" of 
twentieth-century Mormon lyric theatre. They were impressed with its 
beauty, streams, and vegetation, and they set about earnestly and imme- 
diately to tame it. At least two women (and perhaps some of the men), 
however, had a different reaction. They saw only a wilderness, a reptile's 
paradise. "I have come 1,200 miles to reach this valley and walked much 
of the way," Clara Decker said, "but I am willing to walk 1,000 miles far- 
ther rather than remain here." 6 Her mother, Harriet, echoingly said, "We 
have traveled fifteen hundred miles over prairies, desert and mountains, 
but, feeble as I am, I would rather go a thousand miles farther than stay in 
such a place as this." 7 Nevertheless, they stayed. From their disappointed 
reactions, however, originated the enduring misconception that the Valley 
was desolation. There is also some evidence that in order to persuade later 
emigrants of the feasibility of settling the drier parts of southern Utah, 
church leaders consciously or unconsciously fostered the impression that 
the Wasatch oasis, which had "been made to blossom as the rose," had 
originally been a desert. * 

Since Young was still sick with mountain fever, it was Heber who as- 
sembled the camp on July 25 to give thanks for their safe arrival and the 
good prospects of the Valley. From the back of Brigham Young's wagon, 

And on to the Valley 171 

drawn up in some shade, Heber again exhorted the Pioneers to be faithful 
and obey counsel. Afterward he called his "family" together around his 
wagon and advised them to help each other, to be prudent and take care of 
all things entrusted to their care, and suggested that some should go back 
to the Sweetwater to kill some buffalo and dry the meat for winter con- 
sumption. He advised them to build an enclosure for the horses and cattle, 
watch out for Indians, keep the Sabbath day holy, plant peach stones and 
apple seeds, and make clothing out of the buckskins he had purchased at 
Fort Bridger. 9 

On July 26 Brigham Young was better, and along with Heber and a 
few others he rode and walked to the summit of a low mountain north of 
their camp. Despite recurrent and persistent rumors, however, no U.S. flag 
was hoisted that day. Heber, probably remembering Isaiah's prophecy re- 
garding an "ensign to the nations," did say that someday an ensign would 
be flown there, but on that particular day all that was left fluttering in the 
breeze was one of his yellow bandanas. (The promontory, of course, was 
immediately designated Ensign Peak.) 

The best way to visualize what the Valley looked like to Heber in 
1847 is from this same summit. Heber described it as an 

extensive, level looking valley . . . which lays about 25 miles to the 
west, and runs south about 40 miles . . . bounded by high moun- 
tains. . . . The valley looks exceedingly rich, of a loose black soil. . . . 
There are a number of small creeks . . . from the mountains on the 
East watering the valley. . . . On these creeks there is a little timber, 
but the valley itself looks bare of timber. . . . The part of the valley 
which lays on the north is mostly naked ... is not calculated for 
cultivation except for a few miles north of the camp. At the edge of 
the mountain running north from here there are many warm sulphur 
springs. 10 

Heber was a little off in his estimation of distances. The Valley is 
oblong, closer to fifteen miles wide by twenty long, bounded on the west 
by the Great Salt Lake and the Oquirrh Mountains, pinched off in the 
south by Point of the Mountain, and defined on the north and east by the 
Wasatch Front. Geologically it is a sagebrush plain delimited by mountains. 

While the Mormons were the first to settle the Valley, they were far 
from being the first whites to see or visit it. The famous Spaniards, Fathers 
Escalante and Dominguez, got as far north as Utah Lake in 1776. The Val- 
ley itself had been explored and traversed since the 1820s by mountain 
men and explorers. 

Thereafter, the days of Heber and Brigham were crowded with the 


supervision of laying out a city, planting potatoes, corn, beans, peas, buck- 
wheat, and other crops, assigning building lots, dealing with the Indians, 
building homes, a fort, a bowery, and fences, repairing equipment, and ex- 
ploring. They worked in a little recreation by bathing in the warm springs 
at the base of Ensign Peak and at a place they called Black Rock by the 
Great Salt Lake. The warm springs (today's Wasatch Springs) have a tem- 
perature of 109 degrees and are quiet evidence of Utah's early volcanic his- 
tory. Black Rock was later developed as a beach resort and the formation 
still stands. (Heber eventually built a ranch house there — see below, p. 

On July 29 the rest of the Sick Detachment of the Mormon Battalion 
and the Mississippi Saints arrived in the Valley and swelled the population 
to about 400. 

On the first Sabbath following the arrival of these two companies, 
some overall plans and rules were formulated. "Elder Kimball . . . rose to 
lay before the brethren some items of business, whereupon it was decided 
that the three companies [the Pioneers, the Battalion, and the Mississippi 
Saints] form into one camp and labor together, that the officers be a com- 
mittee to form the corral. . . . That horses and mules be tied near the camp 
at nights . . . that we go to work immediately putting up houses . . . that 
the houses form a stockade or fort to keep out the Indians; that our 
women and children be not abused and that we let the Indians alone." n 

Subsequently the Pioneers renewed their religious covenants by being 
rebaptized in City Creek and then set to work building the fort and their 
homes. By August 12 seventeen homes were under construction, five of 
which belonged to Heber. The fort was built of adobe and covered ten 
acres — where Pioneer Park is today. Its walls were nine feet high and 
twenty-seven inches thick. The houses were roughly fourteen by sixteen 
square feet, built next to the wall facing a common green. 

Heber's four rooms (one of which was a good-sized storeroom) were 
built in a row on the east side of the stockade (on the west side of today's 
Second West Street between Third and Fourth south streets). His complex 
was for years the largest structure in the Valley and was used as a school, 
for religious meetings, and for nearly all civic and legislative meetings un- 
til at least August, 1853. 

By Sunday, on a hot August 22, it was time to return to Winter Quar- 
ters to prepare for the final migration the following year. On this Sunday a 
special conference was held in the Bowery, a temporary shelter which had 
been erected on the block Young had designated for building a temple. 
Brigham presided, but Heber conducted the extensive business which re- 
mained to be transacted. While the assembly sat quietly on rude benches, 

And on to the Valley 173 

he said, "These are matters for your consideration — if the brethren have 
any interest, we want an expression of it — if they have not, be silent and 
[we] will transact the business" — a typical example of Mormon democracy. 

Fanning himself with his hat, Heber then gave the faithful a pep talk 
to forge them into a cooperative unit and to steel them for the rigors of the 
forthcoming winter. "I wish to God we had not got to return," he said, 'if 
I had my family here, I would give anything I have. This is a paradise to 
me. It is one of the most lovely places I ever beheld." I2 

Before the meeting was over it was decided to fence part of the crops, 
to call the community the Great Salt Lake City, and to name a number of 
streams. Heber is credited with the felicitous thought of naming the river 
to the west (which connected fresh-water Utah Lake with the dead Great 
Salt Lake) the Jordan. 

The people were then organized into wards and a stake. (A ward, a 
term borrowed from politics, is a congregation; a stake, a reference to the 
wooden stakes which supported the tents and tabernacle of ancient Israel 
[Isaiah 33 : 20, 54 : 2], is a group of wards; cf. diocese.) John Smith, uncle 
to Joseph Smith, who was then en route to the Valley, was named and sus- 
tained as stake president. (After he arrived in the Valley that September he 
selected Charles C. Rich and John Young as counselors and organized a 
twelve-man High Council. This organization cared for the approximately 
1,600 who were in the Valley by that winter and formed the basis for gov- 
ernment in Utah until January, 1849.) 

Five days later Heber bade farewell to Ellen Sanders, then four 
months pregnant. Undoubtedly he arranged for Harriet, who was also 
pregnant, and Clara Young to look after Ellen as her time drew near. 
(Ellen survived that first winter in the Valley, but her son did not, and 
Heber never saw the child.) That same day Heber turned his affairs in the 
Valley over to the stewardship of Edson Whipple, saddled up and left with 
Young and 106 others for Winter Quarters. Over 100 Pioneers, including 
all the women, remained in the Valley. Since William Clayton had already 
departed (with the ox teams), Horace Whitney kept Heber's journal on the 
return trip. 

Heber's return was much the same as coming out except that the new- 
ness had worn off, and his party, unencumbered with slow-moving oxen, 
made the journey in only sixty-six days. En route they met each of the ten 
companies and 1,553 Saints of the Second Division heading for the Valley. 
At Pacific Springs Heber met the three members of his family who had 
followed him west. How he reacted to the fact that so few had followed his 
advice is unknown. 


On September 9 the Pioneers encountered a party of Crow Indians, 
far to the south of their homeland along the Yellowstone River. It was a 
raiding party willing to risk stealing horses even from the ferocious Sioux. 
Once they saw the Mormons, however, they promptly forgot the Sioux 
and stole forty to fifty head from the Pioneers. Although the Mormons 
gave chase, only five were recovered, and Heber lost his own chestnut. 

The wealth and prestige of the Red Knights of the Plains was mea- 
sured by horses: they paid debts with horses, bought wives with horses, 
made war on horseback, ate horses if necessary, and would risk their lives 
to steal horses. An armed, mounted Plains Indian was the perfect horse- 
man, the ultimate fighting machine of his age. At full gallop he could carry 
and shoot up to 100 shafts, over or under his horse's neck, fast enough to 
keep one or more in the air at all times and powerfully enough to kill a 
buffalo. For fun and under ideal circumstances he could keep as many as 
eight arrows aloft at one time. 

While the Mormons seldom fought the Plains Indians, they were cer- 
tainly briefed on this formidable foe. The wisest course of action was al- 
ways to avoid conflict or outrun it if possible, but once a fight commenced, 
they were advised to fight to the end, never surrender, never retreat, and 
save the last bullet for themselves, for many Indian tribes had raised tor- 
ture to a fine art to honor the bravery of their captives. 

Two weeks later, the Sioux stole eleven more horses from the seeming- 
ly careless Pioneers. This time Heber and Brigham were among those rac- 
ing across the sage-covered plains in pursuit. They soon discovered that 
the horses had been stolen by the same band of Sioux they had met on 
their outward journey and that they knew the chief. The chief returned the 
eleven horses and then bragged that his braves had recently stolen forty- 
five horses from some Crows. Whether the old chief knew that these were 
the Mormon horses is not known. 

In an attempt to regain more animals, Heber went to see the chief 
again. In front of the chief's tepee the unsmiling Heber demanded more 
horses — and got them. "I verily believe," he later commented, "that if I 
had had a few men with me of sufficient energy and resolution while at 
their camp, I could have secured all of the stolen horses." M 

In between these Indian troubles Heber and Brigham had a run-in 
with Ursus horribilis, a grizzly bear, the most dangerous animal in western 
America. (Once in the early days of San Francisco some "sports" arranged 
a contest between a tiger and a grizzly. The bear cuffed and bit the great cat 
to death in less than a minute.) While they and a few others were walking 
along Deer Creek, just east of today's Glenrock, Wyoming, searching for 
veins of coal, they flushed a sow and her two cubs. One of the party, rather 

And on to the Valley 175 

unnecessarily it appears, shot three times at her. The rifle misfired but 
drew the attention of the bear, which charged the company. By the time 
Heber and Brigham got off two ineffective rounds the bear was within 
about thirty feet of them. They quickly scrambled up the high rocky bank 
of the creek to safety. Seeing them out of reach, the sow ambled off. 14 
Luckily for Heber, the grizzly is the only member of the bear family that is 
a poor climber. 

At Fort Laramie they met Commodore Robert Field Stockton of the 
U.S. Navy. He and his men, who had recently fought in the Mexican War, 
joined the Mormons and traveled with them to six miles west of Chimney 
Rock, where he crossed the Platte to the Oregon Trail. 

The remainder of the return proceeded without incident. On October 
31, about one mile from home, Young called the men together and gave 
them well-deserved praise, which could be as sweet as his chastisement 
was sharp: "Brethren ... I wish you to receive my thanks for your kind- 
ness and willingness to obey orders; I am satisfied with you; you have done 
well. We have accomplished more than we expected. Out of one hundred 
forty-three men who started, some of them sick, all of them are well; not a 
man has died; we have not lost a horse, mule, or ox, but through careless- 
ness; the blessings of the Lord have been with us. . . . You are dismissed to 
go to your own homes." 15 

About sunset they drove triumphantly into town, to streets crowded 
with people, and many happy reunions were effected. A journey of over 
2,200 miles and nearly seven months was successfully and finally com- 
pleted. A road had been charted and a colony planted. Heber could now 
spend a relatively quiet fall and winter in Winter Quarters before making 
the return trip the following summer. 


1. Heber's Spring, known locally as "Mormon Spring," is located in the ex- 
treme southeast corner of section }6, nine miles west of Glendo on Horse Shoe 
Creek Road, between the creek and the road. The spring still appears as it did in 
Heber's day — covered with scum and alive with frogs. 

2. James Smithies Diary, 41, typescript in author's possession. 

3. Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young: 1846-47, 564. 

4. Wilford Woodruff Journal, July 24, 1847, Church Archives. 

5. From Woodruff's sermon, July 24, 1880, as cited by Preston Nibley in 
Brigham Young, the Man and His Works (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1937), 


6. William E. Berrett, The Restored Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book 

Co., i944)> 383- 

7. Orson F. Whitney, "Pioneer Women of Utah," The Contributor, vol. 1 1 
(Sept., 1890), 405. These statements are so similar it may be that only one of the 
two women actually voiced this sentiment. 

8. See Richard H. Jackson, "Mormon Perception and Settlement," Annals of 
the Association of American Geographers, vol. 68 (Sept., 1978), 317—34. 

9. H. C. Kimball, Journal, July 25, 1847, Church Archives. 

10. Ibid., July 24, 1847. 

1 1 . William Clayton s journal, 336-37. 

12. H. C. Kimball, Journal 94, Aug. 22, 1847, Church Archives. 

13. Ibid., Sept. 21, 1847. 

14. Ibid., Sept. 18, 1847. Deer Creek is located immediately east of Glen- 
rock, Wyoming. The rocky heights, about a quarter-mile south of the main high- 
way, are clearly discernible. 

15. Ibid., Oct. 30, 1847. 


The Return 

During Heber's absence there had been three deaths in his family — Helen's 
infant, Helen Rosabelle, Sarah Ann Whitney's little David, and Vilate's 
brother William, who had died while working in Missouri. When Sarah 
Ann's child was dying, Vilate's loving generosity revealed itself: her Sol- 
omon was ill at the same time and both infants appeared near death. Sarah 
Ann's grief for her firstborn was such that Vilate, mother of seven living 
children, prayed that if God required one, he would take hers and spare 
Sarah Ann's. Such were the bonds of love which could exist between "sis- 
ter wives" in the Mormon system of plurality. Even so, Vilate's child lived 
and Sarah Ann's died of the dread cholera. 1 

During his absence Heber's wives had not only generally tended to 
their own material wants — Vilate had earned a little money by renting her 
dining room to two non-Mormon merchants from Nauvoo who had 
freighted out a line of goods, groceries, and fine wines and liquors — but 
also to their spiritual needs. They had held meetings with each other and 
enjoyed several spiritual experiences. On at least one occasion Vilate and 
Presendia were present when the gift of tongues was manifest. At least 
twice, several of them, including Vilate, Presendia, and Laura, admin- 
istered to sick babies. From the beginning Mormons believed that the sick 
could be healed by the laying on of hands and the giving of blessings, or 
"administering," as this act is still called. On the frontier and especially 
under polygamy, Mormon women were much more engaged in such spir- 
itual acts than today. They were not only permitted but encouraged to 
pray with their families and to administer to the sick. 

These women were convinced that the "destroyer'* was present and 
waiting to snatch infants away. Once they believed they saw the face and 
shoulders of Satan through a window. To them such trials were necessary 
to fit them for the highest degree of post-mortal exaltation, and they prac- 
ticed humility, prayer, and fasting to overcome the adversary. 



On the first Sunday after the return, Orson Pratt was assigned to give 
an account of the Pioneer journey and to describe for all their new home. 
Thereafter many meetings were held to bring the Twelve up to date on past 
and present problems. All kinds of things demanded their attention — 
looking after the poor in Winter Quarters, especially the families of the 
Mormon Battalion; consolidating scattered graves into one central ceme- 
tery; petitioning the Iowa legislature for a post office and county govern- 
ment; supervising the activities of the church trustees in Nauvoo, es- 
pecially the disposition of the temple; directing the activities in the four 
mission fields of that day— England, the Pacific Islands, the southern 
states, and the eastern states; and, above all, preparing for another winter. 

In the midst of all these and other activities one long-delayed act of 
church organization finally took place. Since the death of Joseph Smith, 
Brigham Young had led the church in the capacity of president of the 
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This had worked well; few questioned his 
authority. Indeed, some considered the Quorum of the Twelve enough 
leadership. In December, 1847, however, the First Presidency was re- 
organized. There seems to have been neither revelation nor pressing need 
for this move, and the sources do not make it clear why the reorganization 
took place when it did. In a forthcoming dissertation, however, Ronald 
Esplin has pointed out that Young had said, since leaving the Valley of 
the Great Salt Lake, that the spirit had whispered to him repeatedly that 
the presidency must be organized and the Twelve dispersed throughout the 
world on missions — which they were during February 1849. One other 
reason, perhaps, was that for the first time since the death of the Prophet 
the Saints were enjoying relative peace and security. No one was threaten- 
ing them, a new home had been found and colonized, and church leaders 
were able to concern themselves with less pressing matters. 

Brigham Young first suggested forming a separate First Presidency in 
October, and the proposal was discussed formally in a November meeting 
of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Several were against it. They be- 
lieved that a First Presidency could not be appointed without revelation. 
There was also the feeling that the creation of a separate First Presidency 
might diminish the role of the Quorum of the Twelve. Orson Pratt, one of 
the main dissenters, complained that the subject "has been thrown in inci- 
dently in conversation." 2 After several more discussions, a final meeting 
was held on December 5 at the home of Orson Hyde, leader of the Iowa 
Saints, a few miles south of Kanesville. In Hyde's comfortable living room, 
Young again presented the question of reorganization to the nine Apostles 
present. When the question of power and authority came up, sitting back 
in his chair and glancing around the room at Orson Pratt, Heber com- 

The Return 179 

merited, "I don't consider it would give any more power [to Young, 
Richards, and himself] than they have now," and ingenuously added, "I 
have all the power I can handle. 1 ' ' After thorough discussion, the proposal 
passed unanimously. Hyde, who would later succeed Young as President of 
the Quorum of the Twelve, then moved that Young be sustained as Presi- 
dent of the church. To the surprise of few, Young promptly selected Heber 
as his First Counselor and Willard Richards as his second. On the follow- 
ing December 27, this reorganization was sustained by the general mem- 
bership of the church in that area during a general conference held in 
Kanesville. After three and a half years the Saints again had a First Presi- 
dency, and Young, the dynamic, pragmatic "Lion of the Lord," led as chief 

There were certainly more capable and better educated administrators 
Young could have chosen for a first counselor than Heber — Wilford 
Woodruff and John Taylor, for example, who eventually did head the 
church. If one accepts the imperative in Heber's 1842 patriarchal bless- 
ing — "Thou shalt attain to the honor of the three" — and the principle of 
revelation, then his selection can be considered providential. Moreover, 
Young knew Heber from years of totally dependable friendship, proven 
loyalty, well-tried faith, compatability, spiritual energy, and unquestioning 
obedience to authority. As already noted, Brigham, Heber, and Willard 
had been functioning as a sort of executive committee since 1844. In any 
event, never did Young seem to have regretted his choice. Heber remained 
loyal until death. 

As a cousin and convert of Young, longtime Apostle, secretary of the 
Quorum of the Twelve, and Heber's companion during the first British 
mission, Willard Richards was close to Brigham Young and to Heber, and 
was thoroughly conversant with church affairs. He was also relatively well 
educated, a superb recorder and secretary, and the essence of obedience 
and submission. 

Prior to his conversion in 1836, Richards toured with his "Electro 
Chemistry" show in the 1820s, became interested in herbal medicine, and 
in 1833 joined the Friendly Botanic Society. The following year he went to 
Boston to take a six-week course with Samuel Thompson, founder of the 
Thompsonian method of herbal medicine, and became "Doctor" Willard 
Richards — the title is invariably used in Mormon literature. (Several "Bo- 
tanic Family Physicians" were attracted to Mormonism and rose to posi- 
tions of influence. Besides Willard there was his brother Levi, who became 
Joseph Smith's personal physician; Frederick G. Williams, a counselor to 
Joseph; Sampson Avard, leader of the unauthorized Danite Band; Isaac 
Galland, a land speculator from whom Joseph purchased the site of Nau- 


voo; and John C. Bennett, one-time mayor of Nauvoo. 4 Probably Mor- 
mons were attracted to these men for their use of herbs rather than drugs.) 

Thereafter Richards served the church faithfully in many assignments 
as a clerk. He kept Joseph Smith's private journals and was with the 
Prophet at the time of his assassination in the Carthage jail. He became 
church historian in 1842, and even while a member of the First Presidency, 
he was primarily occupied with the business of record-keeping, continuing 
to serve as Church Historian, Church Recorder, and, later in the Great 
Basin, as editor of the Deseret News. Perhaps it was for these skills that 
Young chose him as Second Counselor. Certainly it was not for executive 
assistance: Young delegated few of his executive prerogatives and respon- 
sibilities to anyone. 

Most of the late winter and early spring was spent in preparation for 
going west, relocating in Kanesville those who would not or could not go, 
and "setting in order the things of the kingdom." At the general confer- 
ence of April 6 Elders Orson Hyde and George A. Smith were appointed to 
remain in charge of the Saints in Kanesville. Heber's father-in-law Alpheus 
Cutler may have been appointed to supervise the winding down of Winter 
Quarters. He became disaffected, never went west, founded the "Cutler- 
lite" church, and his two daughters, wives of Heber, remained with him. 

Sometime during this spring, Heber called a meeting of all the male 
(mostly adopted) members of his family. They all came together in his two- 
story log home, where, after the usual exhortations to be faithful, obe- 
dient, and industrious, he encouraged them all to go west with him. He 
regretted that he was in debt himself and could not help them much, but 
said he would do what he could, even to sending his teams back to pick 
them up once he had reached the Valley. "In five years," he promised them, 
"you will [be] better off than when in Nauvoo. ... I hope ... to see Israel 
gathered, Zion established, the Saints settled in peace. I can then lie down 
for a season. I want my family to gain riches, be honorable and . . . 
independent." 5 

By May the Saints had been divided into three great companies total- 
ing 2,408 people to be led by Young, Kimball, and Richards and Amasa 
Lyman. On May 26 Young left Winter Quarters to join his company, 
which had left previously and was waiting for him west of the Elk Horn 
River; this company consisted of 1,220 people, 397 wagons, and 2,251 
horses, mules, and cattle. 

Heber left Winter Quarters May 29, with his company of 662 people, 
226 wagons, and 1,253 horses, mules, and cattle, plus sheep, pigs, chick- 

The Return 181 

ens, cats, dogs, goats, geese, doves, a squirrel, and some beehives. (Rich- 
ards's and Lyman's company of 526 left in July.) The sources indicate that 
Heber had about sixty-six members of his family with him — at least 
twenty-six wives, nine children, some grandchildren, a number of adopted 
sons and their wives, a niece, and several children of his wives by previous 
marriages. As in 1846, his daughter Helen and his wife Sarah Ann Whit- 
ney were pregnant. 6 Winter Quarters was soon lost to view. Heber hardly 
looked back; the rest of his destiny lay to the west. 

The 1848 trip west was not made by a hand-picked group of skilled 
men as in 1847, but by a congress of old and young men and women and 
children. It was more like the companies which had left Nauvoo in 1846. 
Still, as a result of experience and discipline, the three companies made the 
trek surprisingly well and fast. Heber's section took 1 14 days to make the 
journey, only three days over what the unencumbered Pioneers had re- 
quired. Young arrived in the Valley September 20, Heber on the 2.4th, and 
Richards on October n. It appears that Heber followed the route of 1847 
with but one exception — on July 1 7, six miles west of Chimney Rock at an 
old buffalo ford, he crossed the Platte and followed the Oregon Trail to 
Fort Laramie via Robidoux Pass just south of Scotts Bluff, saving about 
ten miles. Even though each company was assigned one or more black- 
smiths, he may also have taken this route to visit the smith the Robidoux 
family maintained in the pass. Maybe it was simply an attempt to find bet- 
ter feed for his animals. 

It was only natural, with a larger company including many women 
and children, that there would be more deaths, accidents, loss of cattle, 
and Indian troubles than in 1847. While Heber's company had still been 
on the Elk Horn, some Otos and Omahas drove off a few head of cattle. 
Later, many of the oxen gave out, some falling dead in their yokes. More 
than thirty, for example, expired along the Big Dry Sandy, just beyond Pa- 
cific Springs. 

Heber, protective, concerned, and perhaps a little officious, carefully 
looked after the women in his company. He scolded some of them for 
bathing in the Platte at a late hour (with little brush or timber lining its 
banks, when else could they have bathed?), and admonished them not to 
"ramble away from camp," or go visiting from wagon to wagon, but to 
stay home and keep themselves clean and their children and wagons clean. 

Of the four recorded female deaths on the 1848 trek, the saddest was 
along the Loup River. Six-year-old Lucretia Cox in Heber's company fell 
off the wagon tongue and was crushed by the fore wheel of the wagon. Her 
pitiful screams brought her parents, but she died quickly. Heber came as 


soon as he was informed and tried to comfort the parents. Unfortunately 
such deaths were not uncommon. Children, probably including Heber's, 
could not resist the temptation to ride between the oxen, balancing on the 
wagon tongue. Heber, shaken by this tragic loss so soon after his admoni- 
tion to the women, on the following Sunday scolded, "It is better for 
mothers to tie up little children in the wagons than bury them. Mothers 
don't half the time know where their children [are]." 7 

Perhaps he was a bit unfair. Some of the women were as busy as the 
"dear brethren." Heber's wife Mary Fielding (widow of Hyrum Smith) 
and her stepdaughter Jerusha drove their own wagon, for example. And 
somewhere along that dreadful stretch between Last Crossing and the 
Sweetwater was where Mary's renowned ox lay down in its yoke and re- 
fused to move. But after being administered to, it got up and pulled the 
wagon of this famous early Mormon widow safely into the Valley. 8 

There were also births, at least ten in Heber's group. Sarah Ann 
Whitney gave birth to David Orson on August 26 along the Sweetwater 
River, and Heber's daughter Helen had a son, William Howard, on August 
17, also on the Sweetwater one mile west of Sage Creek. But William died 
five days later at 9 p.m. on August 22 on Helen's twentieth birthday, and 
was buried the next day in a curve of Spring Creek one mile west of the 
Sweetwater near South Pass. This infant's death was Heber's greatest trial 
during the 1848 trek, indeed one of the greatest trials of his life. Helen had 
already lost an infant daughter at Winter Quarters while her husband was 
with the Pioneers of 1847. Another loss, so soon after her first, prostrated 
her with grief and with what Priddy Meeks, still another botanic doctor, 
diagnosed as a prolapsus uteri, a fallen uterus. There was so much concern 
over Helen's condition that the whole camp laid over August 24. On that 
day Helen's husband Horace and Heber even took the extreme measure of 
disinterring the infant to determine whether it might have been premature- 
ly buried. It had not been. 9 

Helen herself was convinced she was dying. As she lay in her wagon in 
the August heat and dust she gave parting kisses to her husband, mother, 
and father, and told her mother not to mourn for she would soon follow. 
This shook Heber out of his cocoon of sorrow and he cried out, "Vilate, 
Helen is not dying!" 10 He then administered several times to the prostrated 
daughter and her distraught mother and somehow, largely through will 
and faith, got them to the Valley, where they both eventually recovered in 
mind and body. 

It was a Sunday, September 24 when Heber's company finally reached 
the Valley. Brigham Young and many others were on hand to greet them. 

The Return 183 

Church services had been held up pending their arrival. After a 3:00 p.m. 
meeting at which "Brother Brigham spoke until nearly dark," Heber and 
six wives — Vilate Murray, Christeen Golden, Lucy Walker, Harriet Sand- 
ers, Francis Swan, and Mary Ann Shefflin — "partook of a most excellent 
supper" prepared by the two wives who had come west in 1847, Ellen 
Sanders and Mary Ellen Harris. Heber's pioneering days were over for 
good. 11 


1. H. M. Kimball, Woman's Exponent, vol. 14 (Jan. 1, 1881), 118. 

2. Brigham Young Papers, Council Minutes, Nov., 1846, Church Archives. 

3. Ibid., Dec. 5, 1846. 

4. See Robert T. Divett, "Medicine and the Mormons: A Historical Perspec- 
tive," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 12 (Fall, 1979), 16-25. 

5. H. C. Kimball Papers, Church Archives. The date has been torn off this 

6. The best source for this 1848 trek is William Thompson, clerk of Heber's 
division, "Journal of the travels of H. C. Kimball's Division, from Winter Quarters 
to Salt Lake, 1848," H. C. Kimball Papers, Church Archives, and "Journal History 
of the Church, Church Emigration Second Division, First Counselor Heber C. 
Kimball in Charge," May 29-Sept. 24, 1848, Church Archives. 

7. Brigham Young Papers, Council Minutes, June 18, 1848, Church Ar- 
chives. Some women likewise perished or were injured. Their totally inappropriate 
clothes caused them to fall or be dragged under the wagon wheels — such was the 
force of fashion and modesty. Several brave souls wore the safer "bloomers." 

8. The most famous of all Mormon widows was, of course, Emma Smith, 
wife of Joseph, but she refused to go west. In spite of all the inducements and offers 
from Brigham Young and Heber she preferred to remain in Nauvoo and make the 
best of things. She eventually married a non-Mormon in 1847, applied for mem- 
bership in the Methodist Episcopal Church (her pre-Mormon faith) in 1848, and 
her eldest son, Joseph Smith III, became the first president of the Reorganized 
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. See Almon W Babbitt to H. C. Kim- 
ball, Jan. 31, 1848, H. C. Kimball Papers, Church Archives. 

The traditional heroic view of Mary Fielding as a lone widow left to her own 
devices from Nauvoo to the Valley is not quite correct. In the first place she was no 
longer a widow but a wife of Heber; furthermore she traveled with her brother 
Joseph. Both Heber and Joseph (and others) provided her with a great deal of help 
and encouragement along the trail. 

9. Daniel Davis Diary, Aug. 24, 1848, Church Archives. It was most unusual 
to stop even small companies, let alone the great company Heber was leading, for 


10. Crocheron, Representative Women, 111-11. Helen lost her first four 

11. Daniel Davis Diary, Sept. 24, 1848, Church Archives. Mary Ellen re- 
corded a pretty little incident when she entered the Valley with the Second Com- 
pany. "I found Ellen Sanders with supper ready. How charming to walk into a 
house and sit down to a table once more. . . . She told of her travels and 1 told mine 
until a late hour, but we finally slept and rejoiced together that so goodly a number 
of our friends had arrived safely." Mary Ellen Able [Harris], Kimball Pioneer His- 
tory, 2.8. Church Archives. 





I know you will prosper, and live in peace in the mountains 

of the Great Salt Lake, and be perfectly independent. 

Journal of Discourses, Aug. 13, 1853 


A New Beginning in Deseret 

With Heber's second arrival in the Valley in 1848 a new and final phase of 
his career and life began. He never again left the Mountain West, and only 
once during the last twenty years of his life did he leave the area of present- 
day Utah. From his baptism in 1832 Heber had been generally an inde- 
pendent missionary and Apostle, but after he became First Counselor to 
Brigham Young in 1846 he went on no more missions. All of his zeal and 
energy were gradually funneled into devoted support of Young and di- 
rected toward the building of what twentieth-century Mormon historian 
Leonard Arrington called the Great Basin Kingdom. 

While he became a devoted counselor, he instinctively realized that 
friendship in the fullest sense can exist only between peers; furthermore, 
Heber had no intention of becoming lost in Brigham's shadow. He suc- 
ceeded in maintaining his independent spirit, rugged individuality, and 
parity through his increasingly powerful and outspoken preaching style 
and his penchant for prophecy — two traits which made Heber nearly as 
well known as Brigham. 

In Utah Heber became as important and as influential as it is possible 
in the Mormon Church for anyone, other than the Prophet, to become. It 
could be argued that of all the men who have ever served as counselors to 
the various presidents of the Mormon Church, Heber is the most well 
known; certainly he is among the best remembered. 

To 1848 there had been many rifts in his life, created by his various 
missions and the troubles which had caused him to move from state to 
state. Once in the Salt Lake Valley, however, these ceased, and his life be- 
came more routine and predictable — and harder to chronicle. The sources 
are scantier: he stopped keeping journals and wrote fewer letters to Vilate 
detailing his activities. For the rest of his life he devoted his energy and 
talents to building what he considered to be the earthly kingdom of God 
(to him Salt Lake City was to become the center of a worldwide kingdom 



directed by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles), 
caring for his enormous family, helping settle the thousands of emigrants 
who flooded into the Valley annually, and looking after a host of eccle- 
siastical and political duties. 

This last phase of his life does, however, divide conveniently into 
three political periods: (i) the State of Deseret, 1849-51; (2) the Territory 
of Utah I, 1851-58 (to the end of the "Utah War" and Brigham Young's 
governorship), and (3) the Territory of Utah 11, 1858-68 (from the begin- 
ning of the non-Mormon governorships to Heber's death). Throughout 
these periods he engaged in many simultaneous political, economic, social, 
and cultural activities, making it difficult to present his life in a strictly 
chronological manner. 

The members of the First Presidency, the troika of Mormon leader- 
ship, shared some features: all were in the prime of life and clean-shaven. 
But they differed in other respects. Heber was balding with sideburns, 
while Young's and Richards's collar-length hair was scrolled under or 
curled at the ends. And while Heber and Young were powerfully built, 
Richards was a twinkle-eyed, roly-poly, double-chinned cherub. 

In the Great Basin Young stamped his personality and will on every- 
thing — all political, social, economic, and cultural life. As chief executive 
he delegated little decision-making to others. The power of the ancient for- 
mula "Verily, verily, thus saith the Lord" was stated or implied by Young 
in most of his public utterances. Richards, probably due to lingering palsy 
and dropsy, remained a clerk and recorder, a man behind the scenes, in- 
conspicuous, retiring, but powerful with the pen, the drafter of most of 
Young's church and state papers, and editor of the church-owned Deseret 
News. Heber, a modern Jonathan, was as loyal a friend, follower, and sup- 
porter as any man could be, and was clearly the second in command. 

During the first few years in the Great Basin the members of the First 
Presidency were paternalistic, authoritarian, and not only tried to do ev- 
erything all at once, but succeeded rather well. They addressed themselves 
to cultural and social problems as well as to the more pressing and imme- 
diate economic and administrative necessities. Authority was concentrated 
in a few hands. 

When the members of the First Presidency arrived for the second time 
in the Valley, they found about 5,000 people living there, and there were 
shops, mills, bridges, and more than 1,000 acres of land under cultivation. 
There had been 15 deaths (including Heber's son Samuel Chase, who died 
February 3, 1848) and 120 births. The church organization had worked 
well and had provided adequate civil and religious leadership. 

The now-famous cricket scourge and the seagulls which had eaten the 

A New Beginning in Deseret 189 

crickets and saved some of the crops had occurred during the preceding 
May and June. Curiously, despite the miraculous nature of this event in 
current Mormon thought, it was not commented on much at the time and 
was hardly mentioned in the First General Epistle of the First Presidency 
of April, 1849. Cricket and grasshopper plagues were common terrors for 
many years in Utah. (One invasion took place on the day of Heber's 

Among the initial activities of Heber and Brigham Young was dis- 
tribution of additional city and farm lots. In 1847 they had already allot- 
ted 114 ten-acre blocks. By October they had organized an additional 
sixty-three ten-acre blocks and had apportioned over 11,000 acres by lot 
to 863 applicants for city and farm sites. Among the first lots thus dis- 
tributed were the prized "inheritances" around the temple block that had 
been reserved since August, 1847, for the First Presidency and other prom- 
inent Pioneers. Heber, perhaps because of his large family, received the 
largest portion — almost the entire ten-acre block northeast of the temple 

The First Presidency encouraged farming, animal husbandry, even 
bee- and poultry-keeping, and pushed to the limit all activities which 
would maximize self-sufficiency — not only to supply the basic needs of 
those already in the Valley and the anticipated thousands of emigrants to 
come, but to preserve their independence from the Gentiles and to save the 
cost of freighting. 

It was also necessary to formulate policies for the natural resources in 
the area and to begin their development. There would be no private 
ownership of water and timber (and later minerals). These were to belong 
to all. No one would be allowed to carve out huge cattle baronies, as later 
happened in Colorado or Wyoming, simply because the early settlers first 
gained control of the few water resources. 

Water was also harnessed for grist, linseed oil, molasses, and saw- 
mills; coal, lead, plaster of paris, and sulphur were mined and dug; salt 
was refined; lime was burned for mortar and cement; carding machines, 
tanneries, a pottery, blacksmithies, a foundry, a blast furnace, a printing 
press, and several machine shops were set up. A number of consumer 
goods were manufactured: combs, cutlery, shingles, nails, paper, cloth, 
hats, cordage, brushes, soap, crockery, locks and hinges. The Saints built 
bridges, canals, miles of walls, fences, ditches, and roads; surveyed a rail- 
road; built chapels, schools, and shops, a council house, bathhouse, state- 
house, tithing storehouse, Seventies' Hall, Tabernacle, social hall, endow- 
ment house, arsenal, courthouse, warden house, and penitentiary. To 
hasten the erection of some of these necessary buildings, and to give work 


to the needy, a public works program was set up under the general direc- 
tion of Daniel H. Wells — a dynamic personality who later became a mem- 
ber of the First Presidency. 

The Mormons even printed their own paper money and coined some 
gold pieces from the gold dust brought into the Valley by the Mormon 
Battalion. Between January 2 and 5, 1849, Young, Kimball, and Newel K. 
Whitney signed 1,565 notes (in denominations from fifty cents to five dol- 
lars) and reissued 256 Kirtland Safety Society Bank notes with a total face 
value of $5,529.50. 

But food, clothing, and shelter were in short supply during the ex- 
tremely harsh winter of 1848-49. When a gaunt Heber stood up in a 
gathering of men whom he knew to be feeding their families on beefhides, 
wolves, dogs, even skunks and dead cattle and said, "Never mind, boys, in 
less than one year there will be plenty of clothes and everything that we 
shall want sold at less than St. Louis prices," even he considered it "a very 
improbable thing." Charles C. Rich told him that he "had done up the job 
at prophesying that time." 1 (Heber and Charles must have forgotten 2 
Kings, where there is described, at the time of the Syrian Wars, a famine so 
terrible that people ate asses' heads, doves' dung, even their own children. 
At the height of this crisis, Elisha prophesied a miraculous end to the fam- 
ine, and the next day the Syrians, leaving behind all their stores, fled be- 
fore the rumor of approaching Hittite and Egyptian mercenaries.) 

Heber's daring prophecy was fulfilled, not quite so dramatically, by 
the Gold Rush, when some 50,000 gold-seekers went overland to Califor- 
nia in 1849. From 15,000 to 20,000 passed through Salt Lake City in need 
of fresh supplies, ground grain, wagon and harness repair, and help in 
lightening their loads. The Mormons were in a position to provide the nec- 
essary goods and services, and the rate of exchange greatly favored them, 
as they were able to trade at one-fifth to one-half of eastern market value. 
Three heavy wagons went for one light one, and sometimes a team of oxen 
would be thrown into the deal; a wagon could be bought for half what the 
iron would cost in St. Louis; horses and mules rose to $200 a head. 

The Saints benefitted not only from forty-niners hastening to the gold 
fields, but also from merchants rushing goods to California. Near Salt 
Lake City many merchants, hearing that goods were being sent to Califor- 
nia in ships, feared the market would be glutted before they got there and 
sold out cheaply to the Mormons. Some of these travelers gave up the 
quest and stayed over in the Salt Lake Valley, some even joining the 

To dissuade the Saints from joining this mad rush, leaders told them 
that the proper use of gold was for paving streets and making culinary 

A New Beginning in Deseret 191 

dishes(!), that gold was a good servant but a terrible master, and that when 
they had preached the Gospel and built up the Kingdom, God would give 
them all the gold they wanted. Few went; most stayed to build. 

To facilitate the immigration and settling of thousands of annual con- 
verts from Europe which this expanded missionary program generated, 
and to help bring the remaining impoverished Saints from Iowa, the Per- 
petual Emigration Fund was organized. Heber was one of its founders and 
original directors. During the October, 1849, conference, he reminded the 
people that in the Nauvoo temple they had convenanted "that they would 
not cease their exertions until the poor were gathered, " and urged them to 
contribute of their means to this end. 2 

The fund, formally created in September, 1850, was raised by volun- 
tary subscriptions and based on the idea that money advanced to immi- 
grants would be repaid by them after they settled in the Valley and thus the 
fund would be perpetuated. The fund accomplished its main purpose well. 
Between 1850 and 1859 the society brought to Zion 4,769 immigrants at 
a cost of $300,000/ and in forty years at least 80,000 came. 

As thousands of new converts from all over the world inundated the 
Valley, Heber and Brigham Young were busy overseeing the work of ex- 
ploring the area, colonizing, and settling the new arrivals. The actual lo- 
cating and planting of colonies was delegated to the Apostles, but Brigham 
Young and Heber spent much time supervising and visiting the established 

Very little was left to chance. After the sites had been carefully se- 
lected, equal attention was given to the choice of the leaders, and the first 
settlers of these colonies themselves were often "called." For the last 
twenty years of Heber's life, colonizing continued unabated. It was part of 
the basic doctrine of the "gathering/ 1 Within five years eight counties and 
forty-nine wards were organized, and during the first decade ninety-nine 
colonies had been planted in the Great Basin throughout an area extend- 
ing 1,000 miles from north to south and 800 miles from east to west. Set- 
tlements ranged from Fort Lemhi (then in Oregon Territory, now Idaho) 
on the north to Parowan on the south and as far west as San Diego. The 
first major settlement after Salt Lake City was Brownsville (now Ogden), 
thirty-eight miles north of Salt Lake City, originally settled by Miles 
Goodyear before the Mormons arrived. In 1849 Brigham, Heber, and oth- 
ers planned the city and organized the second stake in Utah. The next 
large settlement was Provo, about forty-five miles south of Salt Lake City, 
which Brigham and Heber established during the spring of 1 849. 

By the time of Heber's death in 1 868, 237 colonies had been planted, 


and he had made over forty visits to these settlements. The shortest was a 
one-day trip to Farmington, Davis County, in 1866, and the longest was a 
thirty-three-day trip to Fort Lemhi, 380 miles north of Salt Lake City, in 

Some of these many trips provided rest, relaxation, adventure, and a 
change of pace and scenery. As in 1847—48 while crossing the plains, 
Heber was greatly interested in the flora, fauna, mineral deposits, topogra- 
phy, and indigenous population of his new homeland. He usually traveled 
without members of his family, but occasionally he would take a son or 
wife along. Some of the expeditions were rather large. The June, 1857, trip 
to Fort Lemhi, for example, included 142 men, women, and children, 54 
wagons, 168 horses and mules, and 2 boats. Another trip to Cache Valley 
in June, i860, totaled 116 men, women, and children. 

The Deseret News frequently printed glowing accounts of the good 
done for the scattered Saints by these visits. A typical one of August 21, 
1852, reported rather tendentiously that the First Presidency "enjoyed a 
very pleasant trip, . . . realizing that the Saints have learned wisdom and 
truth, and observed an increased desire in them to do better. ... In every 
place visited, they rejoiced for the privilege of receiving instruction and 
manifested by their works that they would live accordingly. 1 ' 

On one such trip in 1851, Heber encountered the practice of Indian 
slavery. This evil had been going on since before 1 800 and was so lucrative 
that the Indians even preyed on one another to acquire captives, mainly 
children, to sell to the Mexican traders for horses and mules. On Novem- 
ber 3, near Manti, Heber and the Mormons came across Pedro Leonard 
and a small party of Mexican slavers from Santa Fe with a license from 
Governor Calhoun to carry on such traffic. They were buying Indian chil- 
dren from Chief Walkara's band of Utes. Young was disgusted, and by his 
authority as governor of Utah Territory and superintendent of Indian af- 
fairs he pointedly forbade the practice and declared their licenses invalid 
in Utah Territory. But despite his opposition the trade continued into the 

Up to 1848 Heber and the Mormons had been acquainted mainly 
with Plains Indians; the Great Basin Indians were much more primitive. 
Those near the early Mormon settlements were Utes, Gosiutes, and Pai- 
utes, short-legged and dark-skinned desert gatherers of Shoshonean stock. 
The Gosiutes, who lived closest to the Mormons, were commonly and pe- 
joratively called Diggers by the Whites because they grubbed for roots. 
Collectively they were desperately poor, weak, and peaceful. They lived in 

A New Beginning in Deseret 193 

the most primitive of dwellings, flimsy brush wickiups, and existed chiefly 
on seeds, berries, roots, greens, grasshoppers, and lizards. 

In Winter Quarters and along the trail west Heber had urged and 
Young had decreed only peaceful and fair dealing with the Indians. This 
was done for a variety of reasons, mainly to help insure the safe passage of 
the thousands of Saints who would follow. Before the Saints ever arrived 
in the Great Basin, the basic policy of Mormon-Indian relations — "it is 
cheaper to feed them than to fight them" — had been well established. 

The First Presidency also urged compassion, not heavy-handed treat- 
ment, a slow process of civilization, and a gradual change prompted by 
good example and patience to demonstrate a superior way of life the Indi- 
ans could imitate. Mormons were advised that the "Lord had a purpose to 
subserve by these long degraded, and often much abused descendents of 
Abraham," that the church "could hardly send missionaries to the ends of 
the earth and neglect . . . our immediate brothers," and that "we have in 
our very midst a people just as worthy and intelligent, just as capable, and 
everyway as much entitled to receive the Gospel" as anyone in the world. 4 
The Saints were to become Kiilturtr'dger , not conquerors. 

Mormon-Indian relations in Utah generally remained good and 
peaceful, but there were intermittent troubles for about twenty years — 
from some horse-stealing in 1849 through the Black Hawk War of the 
1 860s. By some force and great patience, however, the First Presidency 
was able to keep such trouble to a minimum. Their adoption of some In- 
dian ways may also have helped. When occasion demanded, Heber, Brig- 
ham, and others would sit cross-legged in a circle with the chiefs, discuss 
problems, come to an understanding, and then smoke the pipe of peace. 
Heber participated in this unsanitary — to the white man — but now highly 
romanticized Indian ceremony, for to do otherwise would have offended 
the Indians. 

Throughout the early Utah period Mormons would take Indian chil- 
dren into their homes— especially rescued or ransomed slaves — and some 
Indians played on their heartstrings. They would offer a captured child for 
a rifle or money, and if refused, would torture the child until the Mormons 
could stand it no longer and would agree to the trade. The Kimball family 
raised several such children. William, for example, ransomed five young 
Indians. Once for $50 he bought from the Shoshones a little Ute boy 
whom he named David Eagle Kimball. Many years later he returned to his 
people in Skull Valley west of Salt Lake City and became a chief. A daugh- 
ter-in-law, Caroline (Mrs. David Patten Kimball), reared a young Piede In- 
dian girl named Viroque, whom her father had ransomed, to become an 


expert housekeeper, and Heber himself employed Chief Tabby to oversee 
his horses on Kimball (or Stansbury) Island in the Great Salt Lake. Tabby 
(Tabiyuna or Tabinaw) was a Ute chieftain and brother to the more impor- 
tant leaders Arapeen and Walkara. The latter, called Walker by the whites, 
was an authentic Indian hero of the caliber of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, 
Geronimo, and Chief Joseph and deserves to be better remembered. He 
was certainly the most important Indian with whom Heber dealt. 

Heber also had at least one Indian woman, named Kate, working in 
his home. "She lived in the big house," noted one of his wives, "would help 
the folks when needed, but did not have to work hard, was treated kind by 
all." 5 She was eventually buried in the family graveyard. 

Sometimes such considerate treatment of the Indians paid surprising 
dividends. In September, 1858, Heber 's son David Patton (whose wife had 
adopted an Indian girl) was returning to Salt Lake City from freighting on 
the Humboldt River when his party was attacked by Indians. As soon as 
the Indians discovered the party was Mormon they became friendly. 
"They said they liked the Mormons, but not the gentiles. Upon being 
asked the reason why they did not like the gentiles, said they called them 
hard names such as damned sons of bitches which the Mormons never 
did." 6 The Indians also introduced the Saints to wild artichokes, segoes, 
and other palatable roots, pinenuts, serviceberries, chokecherries, and 
other wild fruits and thereby made a contribution to Utah larders in times 
of poor harvests. 

Although the Mormon policy of peace and friendship worked well, it 
did not entirely prevent Indian troubles. During the summer of 1853, for 
example, the Walker War broke out, during which at least nineteen white 
men lost their lives, including William Hatton at Fillmore. (Later his 
widow, Adelia Wilcox Hatton, became a plural wife of Heber.) 

About ten months after the Walker War began, the Indians were 
ready to discuss peace. During May, 1854, Brigham and Heber visited the 
Ute camp to talk with Chief Walkara, who was also a Mormon Elder. The 
chief's daughter was sick, and he had ordered that if the child died, an 
Indian woman must be killed to accompany her spirit to the next world. 
This was no idle threat, for Walkara, on at least one previous occasion, 
had had two captive children killed in the hope of relieving his own pain. 
At times the Utes even buried live children with a corpse to keep it com- 
pany and to be servants in the next life. When Walkara did die eight 
months later, two Indian women, three children, and twenty horses were 
slain and entombed, along with one live boy, as Walkara's companions to 
the Happy Hunting Ground." Under considerable pressure, then, Dr. S. D. 

A Neiv Beginning in Deseret 195 

Spraguc, close companion of Brighani Young and an official camp physi- 
cian, attended to the child, and Heber, kneeling down in the dirt in the 
wickiup, laid his hands on the girl's head and gave her a blessing. After her 
recovery, the old chief softened and the Utes were less troublesome there- 
after. But Indian troubles did not end. There were difficulties in 1855 near 
Moab, the Tintic Indian War in the Utah, Cedar, and Tintic valleys in 
1856, and finally the Black Hawk War of 1865-68. 


1. journal of Discourses, vol. 10 (July 19, 1863), 247. 

2. Second General Epistle, Oct. 12, 1849, Millennial Star, vol. 12 (Apr. 15, 
1850), 1 18-22. 

3. According to a report by John T. Cave, Feb. 1, i860, to Governor dim- 
ming, U.S. State Department, Territorial Papers, Utah 1853-73, Mi 2, roll 2, 477, 
National Archives, Washington, D.C. The Saints, however, were slow in paying 
back their advances. By 1877 $1,000,000 was owing the fund. Many of these 
debts were written off during the Jubilee Year of 1880, 

4. General Epistles 10, 11, and 13; Journal of Discourses, vol. 1 (July 31, 
1853), 171. As Howard A. Christy has pointed out, however, in practice this ini- 
tially enlightened Mormon attitude toward the Indians was not successful in the 
long run and the Mormons offered mailed fists as well as open hands. "Open Hand 
and Mailed Fist: Mormon-Indian Relations in Utah, 1847-52," Utah Historical 
Quarterly, vol. 46 (Summer, 1978), 216-35. 

5. Adelia Almira Hatton Memoirs, 23, in author's possession. Typescript 
copy in Church Archives. 

6. "A Sketch Pioneer History: A Sketch of Our History in This Valley by 
M. E. Kimball, September 26, 1858," typescript, 34, Mary Ellen Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives, 

7. Thomas Bullock Journal, May 12, 1854, Church Archives; Journal of 
Brighatn Young, Jan, 29, 1855, 3. 


Administering the Kingdom 

When the Mormons entered the Salt Lake Valley in July, 1847, they were 
in territory claimed by both Mexico and the United States. Temporarily, 
for self-government purposes and to hasten the orderly extension of civi- 
lization in the Great Basin, they simply and naturally extended their priest- 
hood organization much as had been done previously in Nauvoo and in 
Winter Quarters in the form of a social contract. Civil authority was held 
by the First Presidency but was generally administered through the Bish- 
ops and the High Council. From July 24, 1847, through March, 1849, a 
theo-democracy existed. Leaders were appointed, but always subject to a 
vote of approval by the people. Revenue came from tithes and offerings; 
lawmaking power was vested in the High Council; the courts were admin- 
istered and formed by Bishops, the High Council, the Quorum of the 
Twelve, and the First Presidency; and the law was executed by the Nauvoo 
Legion. This fusion of church and state, anathema in American history 
and tradition, came naturally to the Mormons. Their task was to build the 
Kingdom of God on earth: what better leaders than God's anointed, and 
what better system than God's own Priesthood? The Mormons, further- 
more, had found little justice from regularly elected state and federal of- 
ficers. What is more, their theo-democracy worked. Justice was done and 
the mundane affairs of the Kingdom were administered. This system was 
to be of short duration, however; it lasted only until the Mexican War was 
ended and a regular territorial government could be set up. 

By the time of Heber Kimball's second entrance into the Valley, the 
treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had been signed on February 2, 1848. This 
ended the Mexican War and transferred the Great Basin to the United 
States. The 1 848 treaty and the discovery of gold in 1848 placed the Mor- 
mons squarely in the path of the surge to the west, and Mormon and Gen- 
tile ways were to continue to clash. However strong the Mormon desire to 


Administering the Kingdom 197 

live their religion in peace, they had no intention of establishing a separate 
nation. As soon as possible the First Presidency commenced preparation to 
gain statehood and enter the Union. 

By January 6, 1849, a constitution had been drafted, a delegate to 
Congress selected, and a petition for statehood prepared. Without waiting 
for Washington's response to this petition, the First Presidency opted to 
move ahead and create their own provisional State of Deseret (which they 
in no way intended to become an independent Mormon republic in the 
Texas manner). It was just as well they did, for President Zachary Taylor, 
who succeeded Polk in 1 849, temporized. He worried over the rumors 
about Mormon "sedition" and polygamy and the larger issue of a balance 
between slave and free states. A year later the Compromise of 1850 was 
hammered out, which admitted California into the Union as a free state, 
but granted only territorial status to Utah and New Mexico, a situation 
that continued for Utah until 1896, after thirteen other territories had pre- 
ceded her into the Union. Utah's admission was finally effected after the 
1890 Manifesto ended Mormon polygamy and broke the deadlock be- 
tween the church and Washington. Only three of the first forty-eight states 
came into the Union after Utah: Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico. 

The First Presidency drew the boundaries of their proposed state 
rather generously — including what came to be Utah, most of northern Ne- 
vada and Arizona, much of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, and a 
small portion of Oregon, Idaho, and southern California (to secure access 
to the sea at San Diego) — an empire of about 490,000 square miles, or an 
area the size of today's France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and Holland com- 
bined. The name they chose, Deseret, is from the Book of Mormon and 
means honeybee, suggesting industriousness. The Mormons were not 
unique in their attempt to independently create a state: at least five other 
such attempts are recorded — Texas, Franklin (Tennessee), Oregon, Jeffer- 
son (Colorado), and California. 

A political convention was scheduled to meet in Salt Lake City during 
March, 1849, and a notice was sent to "all citizens of that portion of Up- 
per California lying east of the Sierra Nevada mountains." This conven- 
tion adopted a constitution, provided for a bicameral legislative body, and 
conducted elections. It was hardly democratic by any American standards 
— out of a total of nearly 5,000 persons only 674 voted, and they voted for 
only one slate of candidates. This seems to have caused little if any distur- 
bance — Mormons were used to authority and rule by the priesthood. 

Predictably the three top offices were filled by the First Presidency: 
Young became governor; Kimball, chief justice; and Richards, secretary of 


state. The government lasted just two years and most of its deliberations 
were held in Heber's home in the original fort. 

Heber and his associate justices, Newel K. Whitney and John Taylor, 
served as the Supreme Court of Deseret and the main conservators of the 
peace for one year, after which they turned over their duties to Daniel H. 
Wells, Daniel Spencer, and Orson Spencer, who were somewhat better 
qualified. During his one year on the bench Chief Justice Kimball had little 
to do, as the Mormons were generally law-abiding and were encouraged 
to use their own ecclesiastical or bishop's courts. Only one known case 
came before Heber — the case of the kidnapping of a daughter of Orrin 
Porter Rockwell in 1849. The results of this action are unknown. 

Even non-Mormons, especially passing emigrants, appealed to the 
Mormon courts, and found their decisions for the most part remarkably 
fair and impartial. In those days territorial justices were not held in high 
repute; since no minimal standards for appointments existed, many bum- 
blers, drunkards, and flamboyant eccentrics were appointed to office. It is 
not surprising that the Mormon judiciary was considered exemplary. 

The provisional legislature was duly established. At the first meeting 
of the general assembly, held July 2, 1849, the previous elections were rec- 
ognized and one oversight was corrected by electing Heber to the vacant 
office of lieutenant governor. In this capacity he also served as ex-officio 
president of the senate. If he had little to do as chief justice, his respon- 
sibilities as president of the senate were more demanding. He supervised 
the division of the state into counties; the incorporation of cities; the es- 
tablishment of county courts with judges, clerks, justices, constables, and 
sheriffs; the creation of a state militia and the University of the State of 
Deseret (later the University of Utah). He was also concerned with mail 
service, roads, bridges, ferries, taxes, prisons, the chartering of companies, 
and a host of similar social needs. 

Another immediate concern of the First Presidency was church orga- 
nization and administration. They completed the reorganization of the 
Quorum of the Twelve and the First Quorum of Seventies, called patri- 
archs, increased the number of wards outside Salt Lake City, built a suit- 
able bowery for public worship services, and established a satisfactory 
way of collecting and distributing tithing donations. 

Four additions to the Quorum of the Twelve were necessitated by the 
creation of the First Presidency and the disfellowshipping of Lyman Wight 
for apostasy. The new apostles chosen were Charles C. Rich, Lorenzo 
Snow, Erastus Snow, and Franklin Dewey Richards. Immediately follow- 
ing their appointment and while they were glowing with pride and plea- 

Administering the Kingdom 199 

sure and receiving felicitations, Heber stepped forward and in his typically 
blunt manner announced, "I'll tell you one thing [you] don't know the 
difference between [a] Dutch Penn harness from [and] a light harness. You 
were free men before, but you will get heavy harness on [now]. . . .' M 

The charge to take the Gospel unto every kindred, tongue, and people 
weighed heavily on the First Presidency. Within a short time they had se- 
lected, interviewed, set apart, instructed, and sent missionaries to many 
places in the United States, Europe, the Pacific Islands, Australia, South 
Africa, Thailand, Ceylon, Malta, Iceland, India, China, the West Indies, 
and British Guiana. By 1856 the Book of Mormon had been translated 
into Danish, 2 German, French, Italian, Welsh, and Hawaiian, and church 
newspapers published in St. Louis (The Luminary), New York City (The 
Mormon), San Francisco (Western Standard) as well as Salt Lake City 
(Deseret News). 

In addition to his normal share of organizing and administering this 
expanded proselytizing program, Heber, as "Father of the British Mis- 
sion," generally supervised all missionary efforts in that, the largest of all 
missions. He sent eight of his sons (three natural and five adopted) there 
on missions; other British missionaries sent him reports and letters; mem- 
bers wrote to him requesting various favors; and many British immigrants 
sought him out upon their arrival in the Valley. 

A major part of Heber's church administration was presiding over all 
temple ordinances in Utah until his death in 1868. Throughout his life in 
the church he was closely connected with temple work. Prior to the Great 
Basin period he had contributed money to and worked on the Kirtland 
temple, had helped dedicate the Far West (Missouri) temple site, and had 
helped build and officiate in the Nauvoo temple. In February, 1853, he 
participated in ground-breaking for the Salt Lake City temple, offered the 
prayer consecrating the site, and on April 6 of that same year gave the ded- 
icatory prayer for the main or southeast cornerstone. 

During Heber's lifetime in the Great Basin, temple work was done in 
Young's office, in the new Council House, and in the Endowment House 
on the northwest corner of Temple Square. The first real temple in Utah (in 
St. George) was not dedicated until 1877, nine years after Heber's death, 
and the Salt Lake City temple was not dedicated until 1893. 

Heber usually spent from one to three days a week giving instruction 
and administering the ordinances to as many as zoo individuals a week. 
The work was demanding and tiring. "Through my labors," he once said, 
"in giving the brethren and sisters their endowments and superintending 
the labors from the different Wards, in addition to seeing to those affairs 
more directly personal, my body is considerably wearied. . . ." ' 


To lessen the work he requested the bishops of the various wards to 
take care of all the preliminary work of calling and interviewing appropri- 
ate candidates and arranging for their presence with letters of recommen- 
dation and temple clothing at the Endowment House at the proper times. 
"These men and women," he wrote the bishops in 1856, "who you recom- 
mend for their endowments must be individuals who pay their tithing 
from year to year; who pray in their families; and do not speak against the 
authorities of the Church and Kingdom of God; nor steal; nor lie; nor in- 
terfere with their neighbors wife, or husband; who attend strictly to meet- 
ings and prayer meetings and those who pay due respect to their presiding 
officers and Bishops and those who do not swear." 4 As strict as these stan- 
dards were, modern Mormons will note that today's stringent health re- 
quirements are not mentioned. 5 

Heber must have wondered how much attention was paid to his in- 
structions. "I have a great chance to learn the state of the people," he 
noted in 1866; "out of one company of thirty-five men there were only 
seven that prayed; this company were well recommended by their Bish- 
ops. . . . This tells you how some live when they are here in Zion." 6 

In those days it was possible to receive one's endowments at the age of 
fourteen. As early as 1855 Heber said to the young men, "Take unto your- 
selves wives of the daughters of Zion, and come up and receive your en- 
dowments and sealings, that you may raise up a holy seed unto the God of 
Abraham. . . ."" He urged young people to get married and do their court- 
ing afterward, for the money spent on pleasing the young lady beforehand 
would go far toward outfitting a new home. Couples were also advised to 
keep romance alive after marriage. Then, as now, great emphasis was 
placed on marrying within the church. Heber is supposed to have said, 
"An Elder or saint that honors his place will never marry a wife out of the 
church. A man that marries out of the church is a fool. . . . Let men be 
Baptized & prove themselves four years before a sister marries him." 8 

Heber saw to it that his own children went for their temple ordi- 
nances early. "I desire to refer back to a time when I was about thirteen 
years of age," one son recorded, "when Heber C. Kimball sent word to me 
and my brother Joseph Kimball ... to come to his office. When we arrived 
there, mere boys, he said to us: 'If you want your father's blessing you be at 
the Endowment House in the morning and have your endowments.'" 

"Of course we were frightened nearly to death," he added. "1 do not 
know how people feel when they are going to be executed, but 1 suppose 
that is the sort of feeling I had, not knowing and having no conception of 
what it all meant. However, we were there, and we had our endowments. I 
did not remember much that transpired, but 1 was awed, and the impres- 

Administering the Kingdom 2.01 

sion was burned into my soul of the sacredness of that place, and the sa- 
credness of the covenants which I entered into when almost a child." v To 
Heber the giving of endowments to such young people was "like catching 
a calf while we could catch it." w 

In addition to Heber's temple concerns in Salt Lake City, two stories 
are recorded about him of the future Manti and St. George temples. In 
1850, when the site for the settlement of Manti was being selected, he pre- 
dicted that a temple would be built on a nearby hill. Some did not think 
anything would ever be built in that area. "Well it will be so," he declared, 
"and more than that, the rock will be quarried from that hill to build it 
with, and some of the stone from that quarry will be taken to help com- 
plete the Salt Lake Temple." And so it came to pass. And during May, 
1855, while in Harmony in southwestern Utah, on one of his many trips 
among the settlements, "Bro. Kimball tried to avoid prophesying," it was 
reported, "and twisted to get around it, but out it would come, and at 
length it came forth that soon we would [have] thousands of the Indians 
around us at Parowan." n While the spirit of prophesying was upon him he 
also revealed "that a wagon road would be made from Harmony over the 
Black Ridge; and a Temple would be built in the vicinity of the Rio Virgin, 
to which Lamanites would come from the other side of the Colorado and 
would get their endowments in it." 12 At the time the building of such a 
road was considered impossible, but eventually the road was built, the site 
of the St. George temple on the Rio Virgin was dedicated in 1871, the tem- 
ple itself was dedicated in 1877, and many Indians have attended its 

In connection with his temple work he was consulted in reference to 
plural marriage. In 1857, for instance, John S. Fuller of Spanish Fork 
wrote to him for permission "in obtaining more wives," and offered his 
fifteen-year-old daughter Adelaid as a wife to Heber's son William, assur- 
ing him that it was agreeable with Adelaid and her mother. 1 ' (William 
eventually took five wives, but Adelaid was not one of them.) And in 1861 
Heber wrote John A. West of Parowan, "The letter you wrote me request- 
ing the privilege of yourself and wife receiving your endowments and also 
taking another wife, has been submitted to Pres. B. Young. He has given 
his permission; for you [to] take another wife; and I also privilege you and 
them to receive their Endowments. Be here some Friday as the Endow- 
ments are given on Saturdays. Be there by 7 a.m. with clothing and oil." ' 

In spite of the awesome responsibility of seeing after the temporal and 
spiritual needs of the people, the First Presidency promoted cultural and 
educational affairs, especially those useful in Kingdom-building. Heber 


was fond of the theater and music. He loved parties and especially dancing 
"to the Lord, to His glory," ad majorem Dei gloriam as it were. Sometimes 
he took his combined families to the production of the Deseret Dramatic 
Association in the Social Hall, the first theater west of the Missouri. For 
one opening night he was given fifty complimentary tickets. Three of his 
favorite plays were Still Waters Run Deep, Pizarro, and The Honeymoon. 
Generally he preferred comedies, believing that there was enough tragedy 
in real life. 

Education was encouraged. It stretches credibility to learn that during 
the winter of 1848-49, English, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French, German, 
and Tahitian were taught in the Great Basin. Later, Spanish and Indian 
dialects were also offered. Since there were few books available, classes 
must have been taught by the rote method. Aside from the cultural advan- 
tages of these languages, some, of course, had direct proselytizing value. 

Among the first buildings erected were common schools in each of the 
wards, and Heber and others also built private schools for their large fam- 
ilies. By 1854 there were 226 schools of various kinds in the territory, and 
Mormon illiteracy was probably the lowest in the West. A university was 
chartered and adult education was fostered by evening lectures and lan- 
guage classes. 

Under such leadership, by 1863 Utah not only had more than 200 
schools, and scattered choirs and bands, but also a social hall, the Salt 
Lake Theatre, a musical and dramatic society, the Deseret Academy of 
Fine Arts, the Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir, the Seventies' Hall of Science, a 
horticultural society, the Universal Scientific Society, the Deseret Philhar- 
monic Society, the Deseret Typographical Union, the Deseret Theological 
Institute, and the 5,000-volume Utah Library. (One visitor to Utah claimed 
to have met Heber in the Utah Library and discussed at length with him 
Homer, Plato, Phidias, Praxiteles, Cicero, Virgil, Dante, and Goethe. If 
such an encounter ever took place, the visitor surely must have confused 
him with someone else, such as Orson Pratt or John Taylor, 15 since there is 
no evidence that Heber ever studied the classics.) 

Not all cultural and intellectual efforts succeeded. One student of 
early Utah culture has concluded, "Frontier Utah had little respect for the 
ivory tower intellect, male or female . . . the arts, except for the easy diver- 
sion of the theatre, were not useful in kingdom building." 16 

Some of the leaders seem especially to have downgraded female intel- 
lectual organizations. In 1850 a group of Mormons organized the Elocu- 
tion Society. Heber, for one, could see no practical or positive good in such 
activity and was disturbed when some of his wives joined. He much pre- 

Administering the Kingdom 203 

ferred that they learn practical skills. His forthright solution was simply to 
ask one of the leaders to resign. "Elder Kimball," Martha Heywood sadly 
recalled, "called here on Monday to express to me his wish that 1 would 
withdraw from the Elocution Society, that it might be the means of break- 
ing up the Society or drawing away his wives. . . ." 1? That seems to have 
been the effective end of the society. 

The Polysophical Society for the advancement of cultural and intellec- 
tual life organized in 1854 was another casualty. Even though Heber's fa- 
vorite daughter Helen was a member, it succumbed to the religious and 
intellectual retrenchment of the Reformation. Heber is reported to have 
considered it a "stink in his nostrils," and believed that there was an 
"adultrous spirit in it" 18 — a curiously strong reaction. Was it thought to 
be merely a waste of time or were some of the members putting on airs, 
creating more class distinction than was wanted in the church? Were "un- 
desirable" works of literature discussed? Whatever the reasons, the society 
was disbanded. 

This selective zeal for culture and education drew the First Presidency 
into an attempt in 1853 to reform English orthography — a thankless and 
impossible job that no one before or since has ever come close to accom- 
plishing. The First Presidency, never daunted by any task, sponsored the 
strange experiment known as the Deseret Alphabet. Perhaps the most un- 
usual assignment in Heber's life was to serve on this committee along with 
Parley P. Pratt and George D. Watt. Although Heber had studied pho- 
nography (shorthand phonetics) with Watt in 1845, he had no special tal- 
ents for this sort of endeavor, and his appointment to the committee as a 
representative of the First Presidency only suggests the importance Young 
gave to this project. 

The Deseret Alphabet was an attempt to make the reading and writ- 
ing of English simple for the hordes of European immigrants gathering in 
Utah and to facilitate their complete assimilation into a western American 

No one knows the origin of its strange characters, but certainly Watt's 
knowledge of phonography was fundamental. After the thirty-eight-char- 
acter alphabet (including the Latin letters C, D, L, O, P, S, W) was de- 
vised, the committee had a type font cast in St. Louis and some printing 
was done with it. A First Reader, in an edition of 1 0,000 copies, was pub- 
lished, as well as 1 0,000 copies of a Second Reader, and 8,000 copies of 
part of the Book of Mormon were also printed. The experiment was fi- 
nally abandoned in 1869, a year after Heber's death. There is no evidence 
that Heber ever learned the alphabet. ,y 



i. Brigham Young Papers, Council Minutes, Feb. iz, 1849, Church Ar- 

z. This translation was made by KimbalPs adopted son Peter Hansen in 
1 85 1. He was so proud of this that when he died in 1895 ' n Manti his tombstone 
commemorated this achievement. 

3. Journal of Discourses, vol. 3 (Mar. Z3, 1856), z68. 

4. H. C. Kimball Papers, May 19, 1856, Church Archives. 

5. Many sources indicate that while Heber was generally against the use of 
"hard" liquor, neither he nor his family regarded the proscriptions of tea, coffee, 
tobacco, or "soft" liquor as absolute. In his day Mormon standards of health had 
not become today's sine qua non of orthodoxy. It was not until the administration 
of President Heber J. Grant (1918—45) that compliance with this principle of 
health became a formal prerequisite to advancement in the church and entrance to 
the temple. 

Unfortunately the only thing too many people know about Mormonism is 
the Word of Wisdom, that good members are not supposed to use tea, coffee, li- 
quor, tobacco, or drugs. Often the weightier matters of the faith are overlooked. 
This is not likely to change, so perhaps it will not be amiss to explain what the 
salutary Word of Wisdom really is. Officially it is known as Section 89 of the Doc- 
trine and Covenants, a revelation given to Joseph Smith Feb. zj, 1833, in Kirtland, 
Ohio. It consists of three parts. One stresses the use of herbs, fruit, grain, vegeta- 
bles, and meat (but sparingly); the second warns, "in consequence of evils and de- 
signs, which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days," 
wine, strong drink, tobacco, and hot drinks [interpreted to mean tea and coffee] 
"are not for the body or belly." The third part contains the promise to the obe- 
dient: "And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings . . . shall receive 
health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great 
treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, 
and shall walk and not faint." 

Originally in 1833 the revelation came "not by way of commandment or con- 
straint," and many from that day to the 19ZOS considered its observance optional. 
More zealous Mormons from that day to this, stressing the fact that the revelation 
also showed "forth the word and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints 
in the last days," and that the principle was "adapted to the capacity of the weak 
and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called Saints," have regarded the 
revelation as law. Joseph's brother Hyrum was among the earliest to do so. As late 
as 1 86 1 Brigham Young said, "Some of the brethren are very strenuous upon the 
'Word of Wisdom' ; and would like to have me preach upon it, and urge it upon the 
brethren, and make it a test of fellowship. I do not think that I shall do so, I have 
never done so" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 9 [Apr. 7, 1861], 35). He never did. In 
time, however, the Word of Wisdom slowly evolved into a test of fellowship, which 
it remains to this day. See Leonard J. Arrington, "An Economic Interpretation of 
The Word of Wisdom,'" Brigham Young University Studies (Winter, 1959), 

Administering the Kingdom 205 

37-49, and Paul H. Peterson, "An Historical Analysis of the Word of Wisdom" 
(unpublished M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1972.). 

6. H. C. Kimball to Brigham and Isaac Kimball, Dec. 7, 1866, Millennial 
Star, vol. 24 (Jan. 26, 1867), 59. 

7. Thirteenth General Epistle, Oct. 29, 1855, Millennial Star, vol. 28 (Jan. 
26, 1856), 49-55. 

8. John Pulsipher Scrapbook, Feb. 3, 1855, Church Archives. 

9. Claude Richards, /. Golden Kimball (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 
1934), 274-75. 

10. H. C. Kimball to David Kimball, July 17, 1865, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

11. Thomas D. Brown, Journal of the Southern [Utah] Indian Mission: Di- 
ary of Thomas D. Brown, ed. Juanita Brooks (Logan: Utah State University Press, 


12. James G. Bleak, "Annals of Southern Utah Mission," vol. 1 (Book A), 

typescript, 14-15, copy in Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City. 

13. John S. Fuller to H. C. Kimball, Mar. 10, 1857, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

14. H. C. Kimball to John A. West, Mar. 27, 1861, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

15. Austin and Maria N. Ward, Husband in Utah (London: James Black- 
wood, 1857), 185-86. 

16. Maureen Ursenbach, "Three Women and the Life of the Mind," Utah 
Historical Quarterly, vol. 43 (Winter, 1975), 40. 

17. Ibid., 31. 

18. Ibid., 32. 

19. Contrary to popular belief, the Deseret Alphabet was not a device for the 
keeping of Mormon "secrets." Such an attempt at that time in the Great Basin 
seemed so bizarre that some non-Mormons sought a deeper meaning. Except for 
their sacred temple ceremonies, Mormons really do not try to keep secrets, in fact 
they expend enormous time and treasure trying to share their "secrets" with the 

Some wags have commented that a printed page in the Deseret Alphabet re- 
sembles a Turkish tax list more than anything else. More serious observers have 
guessed that it may derive from Isaac Pitman's Stenographic Soundhand of 1837 
or his Phonographic journal of 1 842, or from an Ethiopian alphabet, or even from 
the Book of Mormon "reformed Egyptian." 


Defending the Kingdom 

In September, 1850, Millard Fillmore and Congress established the Terri- 
tory of Utah. Because of Utah's remote location, however, the territorial 
government was not effected until March 26, 185 1. According to law, 
when a territorial government was set up, Washington appointed the exec- 
utive and judicial officers (the governor, secretary of state, three judges, a 
marshal, and an attorney), and the people of the territory elected the mem- 
bers of their legislature and their one delegate to Congress. The Mormons 
felt justified, however, in sending President Fillmore their own proposed 
list of territorial officers — Brigham Young for governor, Willard Richards 
as secretary of state, Zerubbabel Snow ' for chief justice, Heber C. Kimball 
and Newel K. Whitney for associate justices, Joseph L. Heywood for mar- 
shal, and Seth M. Blair for attorney. 

Fillmore was surprisingly agreeable and accepted four of the seven — 
Young, Snow, Blair, and Heywood. Broughton D. Harris was appointed as 
secretary of state and Joseph Buffington as chief justice, with Snow and 
Perry G. Brocchus as his associates. Heber, lacking any formal training in 
jurisprudence, received no appointment of any kind. 

Fillmore had considerable trouble with his justice appointees, as these 
positions were not popular. In all there were six chief justices and seven- 
teen associate justices appointed to serve in Utah between 1850 and 
Heber's death in 1868. 2 Heber, however, was never appointed to any of 
these many vacancies, although on at least one occasion he formally peti- 
tioned for one. 

Although no longer chief justice, Heber did remain politically active. 
He served as a councilor (senator) representing Salt Lake County in the 
territorial or legislative council (senate). Through 1858 he also served as 
president of this thirteen-man body and worked on two of its standing 
committees — the judiciary and the committee on herding. 

The first session of the new territorial legislature convened September 


Defending the Kingdom 207 

23, 1 85 1, in the Social Hall in Salt Lake City and immediately got off to a 
bad start with the departure for Washington, four days later, of Brocchus, 
Harris, and Lemuel G. Brandebury, who replaced Buffington as chief jus- 
tice when the latter refused to serve, all three of whom returned to Wash- 
ington. They promptly announced that they had been compelled to leave 
Utah because of the illegal and seditious acts of Governor Young, that 
Young was wasting federal funds, and that the Mormons were immoral 
and polygamous. This was the beginning of many years of misunderstand- 
ings between the Mormons and Washington-appointed territorial officers. 

Heber's typical response to their departure was to rise in the Social 
Hall and propose to the council that "we the Elders of Israel, agree to de- 
liver the United States officers now about to leave the Territory into the 
hands of Satan that he may have power to buffet them until they shall be 
devoid of reason and have no power to injure any one." J This motion, of 
course, carried unanimously. 

Heber took his position as a councilor and as president of the council 
seriously and had no intention of being a mere figurehead, tolerated sim- 
ply because he was a member of the First Presidency. "I want to speak," he 
insisted, "and not be here like a dumb dog. 1 am ignorant of many tech- 
nicalities, but ... 1 know the truth. . . ." 4 On a freezing January 13, 1852, 
he spoke sternly against a bill requiring code commissioners to be learned 
in the law and argued that any good man could be a lawyer in Utah, not 
just those with training. "I am not learned in the law, and I want to get a 

salary and sit on my h s [harse?] the same as other men, let us not 

make laws that will prohibit ourselves from such privileges. . . ." He went 
on to add, "Now the most of these learned lawyers are as ignorant as I am, 
and I tell you, if I sat upon the bench, and they treated me as they treat 
Judge [Zerubbabel] Snow 1 would knock them down. He is learned in the 
law and must submit to have the nasty curses shame him and they will call 
him a nasty shit. Then I say let us poor ignorant fools have a chance to get 
salaries." 5 

Although he took political life seriously, Heber was not loath to take 
advantage of his positions as a member of the First Presidency and presi- 
dent of the council to preach to either that body or the house when he felt 
the need to. When someone fussed over his insistence on prayer and the 
role of the Priesthood in the legislature he let it be known that the "breth- 
ren were to be brethren," that if the Priesthood were not present and hon- 
ored he would leave. To him the legislators were to "make the laws for 
Israel," like the Seventy selected by Moses and the Council of Fifty chosen 
by Joseph Smith. 6 Heber was especially insistent during the Reformation 
of the mid- 1 850s. On December 30, 1855, for example, he advanced a res- 


olution to the general assembly: "This is a day of reformation and we of 
the Council cannot do business until the work of the reformation goes 
through and all repent and are baptized for the remission of sins, that we 
may have the Holy Ghost to be in us and over us."^ On the next day he 
had John 15 read to the group to buoy them up spiritually. 

A year later Heber made a speech to the council, calling every member 
to repent of his sins and be baptized for the same, whereupon the group 
adjourned to the Endowment House. 8 Two weeks later on New Year's Eve, 
he addressed a joint session of the legislature regarding order, discipline, 
and righteousness: "I would positively motion that every house that is not 
a House of God should be removed destructively, as Hosea says . . . 'If 
there is not a known tribunal to put these things into force there should be 
a tribunal unknown to do it.'. . . We should be organized precisely after the 
order of God." He further charged them to be different in preventing 
wickedness. "We are minute men, all of us, from this time henceforth and 
forever, to spy out the liberties of our enemies in our midst, upset their 
nastiness, upset their wicked combinations, and cast out their nuisances." 9 

This reference to a "tribunal unknown" may have been a veiled allu- 
sion to the Council of Fifty. Such statements may be one source of non- 
Mormon rumors of "avenging angels" and the like. Certainly his citing 
the fiery minor prophet Hosea was strong language to men who knew 
their Old Testament. In this same joint session of December, 1856, which 
was one of his last, he let all the delegates know in unequivocal terms that 
the church ruled the legislature. "Ain't we got authority," he said, "to cut 
you off the Church here just as much as in a Church capacity? Why Gen- 
tlemen I can turn this assembly into a [church] Council in a moment." 

In 1854 Willard Richards, Second Counselor to Young in the First 
Presidency, died. Young, feeling the burdens of administration, replaced 
the clerk and recorder with an executive, the young, dynamic, thirty-nine- 
year-old Jedediah Grant, who, despite a broken nose, somewhat resembled 
Andrew Jackson in appearance. Grant had joined the church when only 
eighteen, had participated in Zion's Camp, had fulfilled several successful 
missions, had been ordained in Nauvoo as one of the Seven Presidents of 
Seventy, and had led a company across the plains in 1847. In Utah he had 
served as major general of the Nauvoo Legion (the territorial militia), 
speaker of the house in the legislature, and superintendent of public works 
in Salt Lake City, and was an obedient polygamist with three wives. 
Grant's great promise remained largely unfulfilled, however; two years 
and eight months later he died — a death generally ascribed to exhaustion. 

Defending the Kingdom 209 

His major accomplishment in the First Presidency was directing a re- 
form among the Saints. The Reformation movement commenced in 1855 
and swept throughout the church. There was much need for a moral and 
spiritual awakening by that time. For ten years the Saints had not lived 
under normal conditions; soldiers, merchants, travelers, and emigrants 
were spreading "Gentile wickedness." Regularity and discipline needed to 
be reintroduced. The practice of plural marriage was also reemphasized. 
Heber, to lead the way, took his last five wives during this period; Presi- 
dent Young took two. 

The Reformation resulted in more than just widespread repentance 
and rebaptism and cultural retrenchment. Some unusual doctrine emerged 
also. It is clear, for instance, that Heber sometimes used the word "God" 
to refer to superior human beings (a usage justified by John 10:34—35); 
he also seems to have thought that "Adam" was one of the proper names 
of God the Father. 10 Such ideas may be part of the misunderstanding 
which led listeners to suppose that he and Brigham Young believed that 
the Adam of the Garden of Eden was God the Father. 

In 185 z Heber stated, "Some have said that I was very presumptuous 
to say that Brother Brigham was my God and Saviour; Brother Joseph was 
his God; and the one that gave Joseph the keys of the kingdom was his 
God, which was Peter. 11 In a moment of reverie Heber said, "Brother Brig- 
ham, I have an idea that Adam is not only our Father, but our God. 12 In 
1856 he added, "Brother Brigham is my President; he is my Governor, he 
is my prophet, he is my apostle, he is my Priest, and if you please he is my 
God. . . ," 13 Apparently this was still considered by some as presump- 
tuous, for about two weeks later Heber somewhat backtracked: "I have 
called Brother Brigham a God to me — well, he is a son of God. I won't do 
so any more, or if I do I will take it back again." 14 Seven years later he 
confided in a private memorandum book, "April 20, 1862, The Lord told 
me that Adam was my father and that he was the God and father of all the 
inhabitants of this Earth." 15 

Precisely what was meant by these allusions is not known, but he cer- 
tainly did not believe or teach that God the Father (Elohim) and the Adam 
of the Garden of Eden were the same being (see p. 274). Heber and other 
individuals, in and out of the church, recognized this as incorrect doctrine, 
and it never became widely taught or accepted. 

The Reformation also produced statements which might imply the 
widely decried doctrine of "blood atonement." A close reading of the 
sources makes it clear that while Brigham Young accepted the Old Testa- 
ment doctrine that under certain circumstances the shedding of one's own 


blood might contribute to complete atonement, he emphatically taught 
that by sincere repentance the ultimate violence could be avoided. Cer- 
tainly he did not advocate the practice of blood atonement — a distortion 
that some writers continue to propagate. 

Most of Heber's printed sermons for that period are free of sensa- 
tional doctrine. They were calculated, rather, to raise the spiritual tone of 
the whole church. "You will be tested," he warned, "as to whether you are 
of the religion of Christ or not. ... I have said that the scarcity of bread 
was nothing in comparison to what is coming: and for this reason the 
Lord wants this people to repent, reform, and live their religion; to learn 
to be punctual, true, and humble; and those who do not will go over- 
board." 16 He reproached lax priesthood leaders for not trimming their 
quorums. "Wake up ye Elders of Israel, and purge youselves, and purge 
out the filth that is in your Quorum, for we will not countenance un- 
righteousness in our midst. Why pursue this course? To cleanse Israel and 
qualify and prepare them, for there is going to be a test, A Test, A TEST: 
and if you do not forsake your wickedness you will see sorrow, as the chil- 
dren of Israel did in Jerusalem." I7 

Another important event of 1856 was the arrival on September 26 in 
the Valley of the first of the handcart companies. Although the Mormons 
did not invent this method of crossing the plains, some gold-rushers had 
used wheelbarrows and handcarts as early as 1850; their development of 
this method is considered to be the most remarkable travel experiment in 
the history of the Old West. As soon as it became possible in 1856 to travel 
by rail from the East Coast to Iowa City, that railhead became the point of 
departure for the Valley. By 1858 it was possible to take trains as far west 
as the Missouri. In both places the Mormons secured handcarts from emi- 
gration agents and pushed and pulled them to Zion. 

The first company to arrive was Captain Edmond Ellsworth's, which 
had made it successfully from old Winter Quarters in no days, support- 
ing the sanguine hopes of the First Presidency that this mode of migration 
would be faster, better, and cheaper than by the usual slow ox-team 
method. Brigham and Heber went by coach up Emigration Canyon to the 
foot of Little Mountain to greet this company, which came in singing "The 
Handcart Song": 

Ye Saints that dwell on Europe's shores, 
Prepare yourselves with many more 
To leave behind your native land 

For sure God's Judgements are at hand. 

Defending the Kingdom 21 1 

Prepare to cross the stormy main 
Before you do the valley gain 
And with the faithful make a start 

To cross the plains with your hand cart. 


Some must push and some must pull 

As we go marching up the hill, 
As merrily on the way we go 

Until we reach the valley, oh. 

Three days later Heber spoke eloquently of this accomplishment and 
expansively predicted that "millions would come by hand-carts." 18 As a 
matter of fact the handcart era lasted only five years, but during that pe- 
riod ten companies brought a grand total of about 3,000 Saints to the Val- 
ley that way. (Thereafter until the coming of the railroad most emigrants 
were brought into the Valley in great church wagon trains. 19 Eight of these 
handcart companies arrived safely with minimal difficulties along the trail. 
Two companies in 1856, however, the fourth and the fifth, started too late 
and suffered terrible hardships in Wyoming snows. Nearly zoo people per- 
ished along the frozen Sweetwater. 

During these two tragedies there was a protest and criticism of the 
First Presidency. Heber vigorously defended the handcart policy. "Let me 
tell you, most emphatically," he said once, "that if all who were entrusted 
with the care and management of this year's immigration had done as they 
were counseled and dictated by the First Presidency of the Church, the suf- 
ferings and hardships now endured by the companies on their way here 
would have been avoided. Why? Because they would have left the Mis- 
souri river in season and not been hindered until late September." 

Because of their murmuring, he said threateningly, using the full 
power of his ecclesiastical position against them, "The heavens are closed 
against you. ... I cannot account for the barrier that is between you and 
the Lord in any other way, only that there is quite a sympathy at work 
against br. Brigham and his Council. . . . We have to acknowledge the 
hand of God in all things; and that man or woman that feels to murmur 
and complain is in the gall of bitterness and the hands of iniquity, and does 
not know it. May God have mercy on you. Amen." 20 As would be ex- 
pected, this silenced most critics. Those who censured him or his leader 
found they had picked up a two-edged sword which Heber skillfully 
turned back on them. Recourse for dissenters was to leave the church or 
remain silent; open dissent was inconsistent with membership in a society 
based on acceptance of authority. 


Early in 1857, following the death of Grant, Young selected as his 
Second Counselor the forty-three-year-old Daniel Hanmer Wells, another 
able executive. Young was fond of saying Heber was the prophet and Wells 
his statesman. A craggy, full-maned, Lincolnesque figure, with jutting chin 
whiskers and a cast eye, Wells had been a pre-Mormon resident of Nau- 
voo. He joined the church in 1846 and during the 1848 trek west served as 
Young's aide-de-camp, becoming a favorite of the President. 

In Utah, before becoming a member of the First Presidency, Wells 
served in the territorial legislature, as attorney general of the State of Des- 
eret, major general of the militia, superintendent of church public works, 
and member of the city council. He was also a polygamist who eventually 
had six wives and thirty-seven children. 

In the same year that Wells became a member of the First Presidency 
the "Utah War" commenced. This trouble broke out partly as a result of 
anti-Mormon furor following the public announcement of polygamy in 
1852, but more directly it arose out of an attempt to weaken the power of 
the church in the territory. It may even have been a ruse to get the nation's 
mind off the growing slavery problem. Whatever the reasons, the new ad- 
ministration of James Buchanan (as of March 4, 1857), receiving many 
unfavorable reports about affairs in Utah, decided to send a military expe- 
dition to install a new governor and to insure obedience to federal laws. 

The following July 1 8, 2,500 troops, led first by General W. S. Harney 
and later by Colonel Albert S. Johnston, began to march secretly to Utah 
from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Territory, along the Oregon Trail. This 
figure, swelled by civilian employees and camp followers, grew to nearly 
5,000 by the time Utah was reached. 

By July 24, however, Young had already learned of the army's ap- 
proach. Mormon mail-carriers in Independence, Missouri, divining the 
army's intention, had rushed the message to Salt Lake City. The First Presi- 
dency immediately ordered a total defense movement against what they 
considered to be a declaration of war. Wells, still commanding officer of 
the Utah militia even after he became a member of the First Presidency, 
was placed in charge of all military operations, and all Saints were ordered 
to be prepared to protect themselves. Wells ordered his men to avoid 
bloodshed at all costs, to harass and burn the army's supply trains, and to 
build breastworks at the mouth of Little Emigration Canyon and along the 
narrow parts of Echo Canyon (the Mormon Thermopylae) — breastworks 
that are still visible. 

Heber participated fully in defense preparations, but he did manage 
to keep cool, inject a little grim humor into the situation, and even see 

Defending the Kingdom 2. 1 3 

some possible advantages for the Saints. In his many recorded sermons of 
that time he said such things as "I have about a hundred shots on hand all 
the time; three or four fifteen shooters, and three or four revolvers right in 
the room where I sleep." 2 ' He advised the Saints to "go and get your 
butcher-knives, your bovvie knives and sharpen them,' 1 or to "buy ... a 
good dirk, a pistol, or some other instrument of war," and "to get a good 
blanket, a gun or a sword." He admonished the ladies to provide them- 
selves "with weapons ... be ready to defend" themselves. In derision of 
the army he announced, "Good God, I have enough wives to whip out the 
U.S. army for they shall whip themselves." 22 

Echoing Heber's disdain are two Mormon songs of the period, the 
first based on Stephen Foster's "Camp town Races," the second "A Song of 


Come brethren listen to my song, Doo-dah doo-dah, 

1 don't intend to keep you long, Doo-dah doo-dah day, 

'Bout Uncle Sam I'm going to sing, Doo-dah, doo-dah, 

He swears destruction on us he'll bring, Doo-dah, doo-dah day 

Then let us be on hand, by Brigham Young to stand, 

And if our enemies do appear, We'll sweep them from the land. 

I'se gwuine to run all night, 
Tse gwuine to run all day, 
Til bet my money on a bobtailed nag, 
Who dar bet on de bay. 

So here's long life to Brigham Young, Doo-dah, doo-dah, 

And Heber too, for they are one, Doo-dah, doo-dah day, 

May they and Daniel live to see, Doo-dah, doo-dah, 

This people gain their liberty, Doo-dah, doo-dah day 

Then let us be on hand, by Brigham Young, to stand, 

And if our enemies do appear, We'll sweep them from the land. 

A Song of 1857 

When Uncle Sam, he first set out his army to destroy us: 
Says he, "The Mormons we will rout, they shall no longer annoy us," 
The force he sent was competent to "try" and "hang" for treason, 
That is I mean it would have been, but don't you know the reason? 



There's great comotion in the East, about the Mormon Question, 
The problem is to say the least, too much for their digestion. 

As they were going up the "Platte" singing many a lusty ditty, 
Saying well do this and we'll do that, when we get to Salt Lake City, 
And sure enough when they got there, they made the Mormons stir Sir. 
That is I mean they would have done, but oh, they didn't get there. 


When they got within two hundred miles, the old boys they were saying, 
"It will be but a little while, till the Mormons we'll be slaying 
We'll hang each man who has two wives, we've plenty of rope quite 

handy. 11 
That is I mean they would have had, but Smith burned it on "Sandy." 


Then on "Ham's Fork" they camped a while, saying we'll wait a little 

"Till Johnston and his crew come up, and make us a little stronger. 
Then we'll go on, take Brigham Young, and Heber his companion," 
That is, 1 mean they would have done, but were afraid of Echo Canyon. 


In a more serious mien, Heber declared that the government would 
have "to pay all the debts of the trouble that they had brought upon the 
innocent from the days of Joseph to this day, and they cannot get rid of 
it." 2 ' Characteristically he prayed that the Almighty would "curse such 
men, and women and every damned thing there is upon the earth that op- 
poses this people." 24 Of those who opposed the First Presidency in their 
preparations and policy, he wrathfully declared, "1 wish there was a maga- 
zine in you, and we could touch you off. You are not fit to live in hell. . . ." 2 ' 

In reference to how the government might pay for all the wrongs it 
had laid on the Saints in the past, he said shrewdly, "Will we have manna? 
Yes. The United States have 700 wagons loaded with about two tons to 
each wagon with all kinds of things, and then 7,000 head of cattle; and 
there are said to be 2,500 troops, with this, and that, and the other. That is 
all right. Suppose the troops don't get here, but all these goods and cattle 
come; well, that would be a mighty help to us. . . ." 26 (For a close approx- 
imation of this circumstance, see below, p. 263.) 

Defending the Kingdom 21 5 

The Utah militia was so successful in its bloodless guerilla tactics that 
it forced the army to winter 1 1 5 miles short of Salt Lake City in Wyoming, 
near Fort Bridger, which the Mormons had first bought, then burned. This 
respite gave cooler heads in Washington time to reconsider. It also gave the 
church an opportunity to send a "memorial" to Congress. While the army 
was in its winter quarters, Heber and others drafted the memorial, de- 
nouncing the sending of the expedition, interference with the eastern 
mails, and the appointment of officers without reference to the wishes of 
the people of Utah. The memorial pointed out Mormon service in the war 
with Mexico, Mormon efforts in suppressing Indian hostilities and main- 
taining peaceful relations with the native tribes, and asked that the Saints 
be treated as friends and citizens and not as "alien enemies." The Mor- 
mons claimed "that we should have the privilege as we have the constitu- 
tional right, to choose our own rulers and make our own laws without let 
or hindrance." The memorial closed, "Withdraw your troops, give us our 
constitutional rights, and we are at home." 27 

As a reult of Mormon military determination, this memorial, an on- 
the-spot investigation, the work of the territorial delegate John M. Bern- 
hisel, a report of Colonel Thomas L. Kane, who visited Utah in February, 
1858, and the peaceful acceptance of the new governor, Alfred W. dim- 
ming, actual war was averted. Also favoring a peaceful solution was a 
growing public opposition to the expedition. A letter from Vilate's sister- 
in-law Laura in Rochester reflected public opinion. "Be assured," she 
wrote, "we have stood appalled and trembled for your safety at the near 
approach of so formidable a foe as this blood thirsty government having at 
their command the U.S. Army and Navy." 2K 

The new governor, who had spent an unpleasant winter with the 
army in Wyoming, arrived in Salt Lake City on April 1 2, and was accorded 
all due respect. Shortly thereafter Buchanan's peace commission arrived in 
Utah and arrangements were made to end officially the Utah War, by that 
time termed "Buchanan's Blunder." In the end the Mormons agreed to ac- 
cept a "pardon," receive a Gentile governor, and allow the army to enter 
the Valley peacefully. 

To show their determination, however, and to insure that the army 
would in no way molest the people, the First Presidency threatened the 
army with a scorched-earth policy. The Saints were instructed to prepare 
their homes to be burned if necessary and to move south into Utah Valley. 
This policy required nearly 30,000 people once more to abandon their 
homes and farms. Another diaspora commenced. From April 1 through 
the end of May Heber Kimball moved his family south along the State 


Road and resettled them variously in American Fork, Provo, and Spring- 

When all was in readiness, the people safely in the south, and homes 
prepared for the torch, the troops were allowed to pass through the aban- 
doned city on June 26. The passage was without incident. Their camp in 
Cedar Valley, adjacent to the hamlet of Fairfield thirty-five miles southwest 
of Salt Lake City, was named in honor of John B. Floyd, secretary of war. 
Camp Floyd and Fairfield grew to a community of nearly 7,000 soldiers, 
camp followers, and civilian employees. It became the third largest city in 
the territory (after Salt Lake City and Provo) and the largest military in- 
stallation in the country until it was abandoned at the beginning of the 
Civil War. 

A woman's version of this Mormon exodus was recorded by one of 
Heber's wives, Adelia Wilcox. 

The Winter passed by without anything of note occuring to disturb 
the people, but along in April [1858] President Young told the Saints 
to vacate the City before the army came in. Mr. Kimball loaded up 
some of the members of his family and sent them to Provo. I was one 
of the first that went. Christeen [Golden] and I had a room in Brother 
Redfields house. Here we lived for several weeks until he moved all of 
his family and rented a place called The Grove.' 1 was then moved 
there and lived with some of the other members. The time passed 
slowly by and it always seems long when a person is not settled down 
and doesn't know what they are going to do and this was the con- 
dition we were in until along in July when the glad and joyful word 
came, 'Saints return to your homes.' And it was a welcome sound to 
all for they had been deprived of this blessing just long enough to 
know how to appreciate it. 24 

Thousands of Saints then began to trudge back to their abandoned homes 
and fields, back to a new era of Gentile governors. In a pointed reference to 
the many times the Saints had been driven from their homes, Heber humor- 
ously remarked to Brigham Young that in the future they should build their 
homes on wheels so they could flee their enemies more readily.' 


1. A brother of Apostle Erastus Snow, former member of Zion's Camp: he 
drifted away from the church, remained in Ohio, was reactivated in 1 850 by Eras- 
tus, and had some legal training. 

Defending the Kingdom 217 

2. Records Relating to the Appointments of Federal Judges, Attorneys, and 
Marshals for the Territory and State of Utah: 185^-1901, M680, roll 1 , National 
Archives, Washington, D.C. 

3. "Speech in Legislative Council," Sept. 27, 1851, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

4. Historian's Office Journal, Dec. 20, 1854, Church Archives. 

5. "Speech in Legislative Council," Jan. 13, 1852, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. It would be unfair to judge Hcber's irate frontier language 
among a group of close associates by our own standards of what is appropriate. 
Heber once complained to this same Council that he "could not preach half to the 
Saints in the Tabernacle." He was much more at liberty in such Council meetings. 
Thomas W. Ellerbeck Diary, Dec. 28, 1852, Church Archives. 

6. Historian's Office Journal, Dec. 20, 1854, Church Archives. 

7. Resolution in the General Assembly, Dec. 3, 1855, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

8. Gustive O. Larson, "The Mormon Reformation," Utah Historical Quar- 
terly, vol. 26 (Jan., 1958), 59- 

9. "Remarks by Prest. Heber C. Kimball," Dec. 31, 1855, H. C. Kimball Pa- 
pers, Church Archives. This quote is not found in Hosea. 

10. Wilford Woodruff Journal, Apr. 9, 1852, Church Archives. 

11. Ibid, 

32. T. B. H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints: A Full and Complete 
History of the Mormons (New York: D. Appleton, i 873), 561 . 

13. Brigham Young Addresses (unpublished), Dec. 18, 1856, Church Ar- 

14. Ibid., Dec. 30, 1856. 

15. Private Memorandum Book, Apr. 20, 1862, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

16. Journal of Discourses, vol. 4 (Dec. 21, 1856), 139, 141, 143. 

17. Ibid., vol. 4 (Dec. 21, 1856), 141. 

18. Ibid., vol. 4 (Dec. 28, 1856), 106. 

19. As would be expected, sometimes Heber's utterances did not come to 
pass (or at least have not yet come to pass). In anger over Buchanan sending an 
army to Utah, he predicted that the President would die an "untimely death." 
Buchanan, however, lived until he was seventy-seven, dying in 1 868, the same year 
as Heber. Heber also believed that the Saints would be "blessed, and you will see 
the day when President Young, Kimball, and Wells, and the Twelve Apostles will 
be in Jackson County, Missouri laying out your inheritances. In the flesh? Oi 
course. We should look well without being in the flesh! We shall be there in the 
flesh, and all our enemies can not prevent it. Brother Wells, you may write that: 
You will be there, and Willard will be there, and also Jedediah, and Joseph and 
Hyrum Smith and David, and Parley: and the day will be when I will see those men 
in the general assembly of the Church of the First-Born, in the great council of God 
in Jerusalem, too." Mormons may one day return to Missouri, but none ot Heber's 


generation did. There is no evidence, however, that these prophetic "misses" af- 
fected the Saints adversely. Next to Joseph Smith, Heber made more recorded 
prophecies than any other major Mormon leader. Some of Joseph's prophecies 
have also yet to come true, but this has bothered few. 

20. Journal of Discourses, vol. 4 (Nov. 1856), 66. 

2i. Ibid., vol. 5 (Aug. 30, 1857), 164. 

22. Ibid., vol. 5 (July 2.6, 1857), 95. Some members of the eastern press, ever 
anxious to exploit a double entendre, ran cartoons showing Brigham Young urg- 
ing his wives, holding infants high, to charge the U.S. soldiers. Such cartoons were 
titled "Brigham's Breast-works." 

23. Ibid., vol. 5 (July 26, 1857), 94. 

24. Ibid., vol. 5 (July 12, 1857), 32. 

25. Ibid., vol. 5 (July 26, 1857), 89. 

26. Ibid., vol. 5 (July 26, 1857), 94. 

27. U.S. State Department, Territorial Papers, Utah 1853-73, Mi 2, roll 1, 
104-5, National Archives. 

28. Laura Murray to Vilate Kimball, June 23, 1858. Original in possession 
of Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission. 

29. Adelia Almira Hatton Memoirs, 20. Heber later remarked, "We are 
richer now for moving to the south than we should have been if we had not moved. 
What did we save by it? It saved that difficulty that would have brought you into 
sorrow, probably, all the days of your life, if you had withstood that army and shed 
blood. But by that move you saved your blood and the blood of your enemies, and 
in this you did a good deed. It cost considerable, but Father booked it against 
them, and he will make them pay the debt." Journal of Discourses, vol. 9 (Apr. 7, 
1861), 27. For a probable fulfillment of this prediction see below, p. 263. 

30. John O. Ellsworth, Our Ellsworth Ancestors (privately printed, 1956), 
1 1 2- 1 3 . 


Kimball's Plantation 

"Nobody pays my bills nor my expenses for me," Heber wrote some ab- 
sent son. "I pay or go without." l To care properly for his families' physical 
wants, he worked hard, protected what he had, was enterprising, and en- 
gaged in many different kinds of economic activities. Although a member 
of the First Presidency, he was expected to support himself. Because of his 
industry he was able to assure his brother Solomon back in New York that 
he had plenty of groceries, wheat, cheese, beef, pork, potatoes, "and al- 
most every luxury you can obtain in the states." 2 "1 have everything here 
almost for my comfort and the comfort of my family that you have in that 
land" — flour, cornmeal, every kind of vegetable, peaches, apples, pork, 
beef, cakes, fritters, sugar, tea, coffee, and rice. "I can say," he added, 
"I am about ten times better off and more comfortable than I was in 
Mendon." 3 

His immediate economic concern was, of course, his "plantation" (as 
he liked to call it), his ten-acre lot, which he developed agriculturally and 
industrially. He was proud of his plantation and improved it in many 
ways, planting shade and fruit trees and gardens, surrounding it with a 
cobblestone wall, and building several barns and storehouses on it." 4 Later 
a family cemetery was set aside. (Today this 82-by-75-foot cemetery is all 
that remains on this site from Heber's day.) He enjoyed showing off his 

Several non-Mormon visitors were impressed with Heber's garden. 
During the summer of 1859 Horace Greeley paid Heber a visit while en 
route to California. Heber proudly showed Greeley around and pressed 
fruit, berries, and doctrine on his guest. Greeley later wrote that it was the 
"most magnificent garden 1 have been invited to visit." ^ A New York 
writer, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, also treated to fruit and exhortations, was un- 
sparing in his praise: "1 must confess," he wrote, "that if there ever could 



be any hope of our conversion, it was just about the time we stood in 
Brother Heber's fine orchard, eating apples and apricots between exhorta- 
tions, and having sound doctrine poked down our throats, with gooseber- 
ries as big as plums, to take the taste out of our mouths, like jam after 
castor-oil." 6 

Ludlow left behind a detailed description of this plantation which is 
worth recording in full: 

Mr. Kimball's city establishment (he is a large property holder else- 
where) is situated on a rise of ground but a few rods from the Temple 
corner and the Presidents inclosure. . . . [His house is] neat and com- 
modious but, unostentatious, like the residence of some principal se- 
lectman in a New England village. Utah has not yet had time to grow 
the noble elms which shade such a residence; but everything which 
money, keen business tact and indomitable energy can do has been 
done by Heber Kimball at least, to make his place a paradise of lux- 
uriant vegetation. In picturesquely selected places he has contrived to 
create pretty little groves of maple, poplar, acacia, and box elder, 
transplanting the young trees from the Wahsatch canons, and by plen- 
tiful irrigation making them grow so rapidly that they had already 
attained the respectable height of twenty-five or thirty feet. 

In this matter of irrigation I noticed that both Brothers Brigham 
and Heber seemed to be "not under the law, but under grace." The 
chief water supplies of the Mormon city may without metaphor be 
said to run through each apostle's back yard, and no hand but their 
own shuts the gate on their trenches. The lower level of Heber Kim- 
ball's place, toward the city, is a garden laid out under its owner's su- 
pervision by an old Mormon gardener. . . . The plan of the garden is 
as simple and natural as a path through the woods, the walks wander- 
ing hither and thither among intersecting rivulets, and under green 
arches of apricot, apple, peach, plum, and nectarine, whose pleasant- 
scented fruit, ripe already or mellowing to ripeness, bowed their over- 
weighted branches together above our heads. 

Heber's melons and cucumbers were very thrifty: Indeed, the soil 
and climate of Utah are finely suited to the cultivation of all gourd 
fruit. It was a week too late for strawberries, or, Heber told me, I 
should have seen a sight, — Brother Brigham's crop had amounted to 
over eighty bushels, and he had gathered an almighty lot himself. 
Heber was cultivating a kind of currant which he had introduced 
from the canons, and which by high science had been so far domesti- 
cated and improved that its fruit was very pleasant having an abun- 
dant juice, less acid, and a flavor no less pronounced, than our own 
large white currants at the East; furthermore, attaining the weight of 
a good-sized gooseberry. 7 

Kimball's Plantation 221 

Utilizing the power of City Creek, Heber was able to develop on this 
lot one of the earliest "industrial centers" in Utah. He first built an oil mill 
or press to make linseed oil out of flax seeds. s Heber got off a little joke in 
reference to this mill. "A gentleman," he related, "desired to inform me, 
the other day, how to adulterate my oil with lye; but as 1 did not believe in 
lying, I did not procure the recipe." 9 

To the Deseret News this was "another step towards that social inde- 
pendence so much desired by all who know the blighting consequences of 
importing, instead of manufacturing those things that are necessary to the 
comfort, existence and happiness of the people." 10 This comment suggests 
clearly what Mormondon's greatest economic problem was — no exports. 
An imbalance of imports over exports leads to a weak economy, and was 
the economic reason for the Isaiahan denunciations from the pulpit of fe- 
male finery, as well as tea, coffee, tobacco, and all other nonessentials. 
Such imports drained Utah of specie. 

To this oil press he later added a run of stones to grind wheat, a cane 
mill, and a circular saw. Ludlow described Heber's industrial complex: 

We visited upon the same grounds, on the bank of one of those streams 
heretofore mentioned as traversing apostolic back yards, a cider-mill, 
a grist-mill, a feed-grinder, a workshop with lathes, belts, and shaft- 
ing, and almost every conceivable mechanism for economizing human 
power in the management of a large estate demanding constant sup- 
plies and repairs. . . . 

Among other apparatus operated by Heber's waterwheel 1 observed 
a carding-machine, and was told by the proprietor that he had the 
entire gear of a woolen factory on a small scale, and when it was set, 
could manufacture from the fleece excellent yarn and durable cloth, 
sufficient at least for all household uses. 11 

Prior to the development of his mills in Salt Lake City, Heber had 
built in 1852 a gristmill a few miles north in Bountiful, Davis County, 
where much grain was then grown. In seeming contradiction to the policy 
that water and timber should not be privately owned, the general assembly 
granted him exclusive rights to North Mill Creek Canyon — the first good 
canyon for water and timber north of Salt Lake City. Such grants, how- 
ever, gave the grantee development and regulatory rights only. This mill at 
the mouth of his canyon was a burr type, two stories high, and powered by 
an over-shot wheel. It was the largest in the territory and stood until 1 892. 
The ruins are located at approximately the intersection of Fourth East 
Street and Ninth South Street and are marked by a plaque. Also, in order 
to develop the timber resources of this broad and gentle canyon, in 1 849 


Heber built a two-and-a-half-mile road and extracted a toll of 25 percent 
of all wood and poles taken out of it. (The upper canyon is known as 
Mueller Park today.) 

In addition to the ten-acre lot and eleven building lots in Salt Lake 
City mentioned above, Heber acquired other land for homes, farming, and 
ranching. Near present-day Twenty-third South and Third East streets he 
owned twenty-seven acres, and north of his home he took a section of 
bench land, on Capitol Hill, which no one wanted. Often when poor emi- 
grants came into the valley he permitted them to build homes on this 
bench property at no cost or for very little. After his estate was partially 
settled in 1875, deeds were issued to fifty-four individuals who had built 
on this and other Kimball property. 12 This part of Salt Lake City today is 
known picturesquely as the Marmalade District because at one time a 
number of short streets there were named after such fruits as apricot, 
plum, cherry, and peach. Heber also owned a meadow, a building lot, and 
a home in Provo, and part of the "Big Field" in Brigham City, fifty-five 
miles north of Salt Lake City. 

Heber was also involved extensively in ranching. He ran cattle, horses, 
and sheep in Cache Valley, Grantsville, on Kimball (Stansbury) and Ante- 
lope islands in the Great Salt Lake, and at Black Rock on the shore of the 
Lake. He was grazing cattle near Black Rock as early as 1849. Today cop- 
per smelters give the area the look of the sixth and seventh circles of the 
Divina Commedia, but then meadows flourished near the springs at the 
base of the Oquirrh Mountains. By t86o Heber had built a substantial 
ranch house, bunkhouse, barns, and other buildings out of rock, all sur- 
rounded by a rock fence. (The ruins of this ranch house were destroyed by 
Interstate 80.) 

Heber had at least two brand marks. The first, a simple H placed on 
the left hip, was recorded on December 29, 1849. Since other cattlemen 
soon had the same brand and applied it on the left shoulder, right shoul- 
der, right hip, and left thigh, Heber may have changed brands to avoid 
confusion. (This heraldry of the range evolved into a near science, and 
there was many a bunkhouse genealogist in the Old West.) In 1852 the 
Deseret News pictured his brand thus ^-r^ , probably a fancy H on its 
side, in cowboy lingo a Lazy H, or maybe an attempt to make a monogram 
out of his initials. 

In the mid-i850s he had about sixty head of cattle and eight horses, 
along with the church herds, in Cache Valley. Kimball Island, about four- 
teen miles north of Grantsville, Tooele County, does not seem to have been 
grazed extensively. More important was Antelope Island, which was re- 
served mainly for the benefit of the Perpetual Emigration Fund, but Heber 

Kimball's Plantation ZZ3 

and Brigham also kept cattle and sheep there. The island was a par- 
ticularly good winter range, for the winds blew the snow off the low 
mountaintops, exposing the grass. He also did some ranching in Parley's 
Park about twenty-five miles east of Salt Lake City. In 1855 the legislature 
granted him, Jedediah M. Grant, and Samuel Snyder the area as a herd 
ground. Heber's son William later operated a stone hotel there (which is 
still standing). It became a regular stop on the Overland Stage, and Horace 
Greeley, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and many others stayed there. 

Heber's most extensive ranching was done seven miles south of 
Grantsville, about forty miles southwest of Salt Lake City. In 1856 the ter- 
ritorial legislature granted him and William McBride a twenty-five-square- 
mile herd ground. 13 Heber built a ranch house there, and two of his sons, 
David Patton and Abraham, lived there at different times. By 1866, the 
property was pretty much run down, as Abraham quickly discovered. He 
had injured his lungs in his father's carding mill, and two Salt Lake City 
physicians had ordered a change of climate. Accordingly Heber, first ob- 
serving that "he did not care what any D Doctor said, remarking if I 

[Abraham] did what was right, I would live long enough any how," lent his 
son a wagon and team and sent him to take charge of the Grantsville prop- 
erty. On Sunday, April 9, Abraham, his wife, daughter, and mother-in-law 
saw their new home — such as it was. The two-room log cabin had been 
used as a stable and had manure in it six inches deep. 

Abraham dug a hole in the dung, set up a stove, and, while the women 
prepared something to eat, began hauling off dead cattle. The hard winter 
had left twenty-eight carcasses around the house and stockyard. "Some of 
them were fearful dead and mellow," the sick man recalled, "hardly hold- 
ing together long enough to haul them off." 14 

In addition to farming, ranching, and milling, Heber was involved in 
freighting. In 1855 he became one of the several vice-presidents in the 
Brigham Young Express and Carrying Company (popularly known as the 
Y. X. Company). Later, after the U.S. Army settled in Utah, he and some of 
his sons kept several wagons busy carrying freight for the army. Such traf- 
ficking with the Philistines was frowned on by some, and Heber wanted it 
understood that he was not selling the army any locally needed supplies, 
especially wheat. "I have hauled wheat to the camp," he explained, "that 
the merchants have bought of this people, and I have got my pay for it." 15 
If some of the Saints insisted in going against church policy and selling 
wheat to the army, then others in the church, including himself, might as 
well profit from the freighting as did the Gentiles. 

On top of all these activities, Heber, along with a few others, in 1853 


privately incorporated the Great Salt Lake Water Works Association to 
pipe water to homes and businesses in the city. Its shares were offered at 
$100 each. 16 

Not only did he strive to support his own family well, but he helped 
and encouraged others to do likewise. A consistent advocate of self-suffi- 
ciency and "home manufacture," he believed the Saints in Utah could be- 
come self-sufficient and preached this theme often, from the pulpit and the 
senate. On January 6, 1852, for example, he made a powerful and en- 
lightened speech in the council advocating home manufacture. 

It is my opinion that measures can be entered into for the encour- 
agement of home manufacture, by nourishing men that have a dis- 
position to go into business, with public funds of either the church or 
state. ... I know of a great many men that seem to be anxious to do 
something in this way, but have nothing to help themselves with. . . . 
I have this disposition as well as any other man. I am trying with all 
my might to dispose of all of the capital I can raise to lay the founda- 
tion for my existence, and for the existence of my family, that they 
may be independent. 

Until we take a course to assist such men, and nourish and cherish 
them we shall [not] accomplish anything. ... If there is anything we 
can manufacture ourselves let us go at it right straight and not sit here 
on our harses doing nothing. ... Let those who have surplus prop- 
erty, let us lend it to the state, and by and by the state will pay it back 
with usury, or lend it to the Church and the Church will turn around 
and pay you again. 

In this same speech he not so enlightenedly criticized the sisters for insist- 
ing on expensive imports in favor of homemade items and accused them of 
"teasing us all the time to buy such little nasty shitten things." r Most of 
the assembled brethren probably enthusiastically agreed. 

He was also greatly concerned with the storing up of food stuffs, es- 
pecially grain, against poor crops and famine. For years he preached pre- 
paredness. On August 13, 1853, for example, he warned the Saints to take 
care of their grain "for you will see hard times." 18 When a near famine did 
come in 1856 he had to put his own family on half-rations in order to feed 
the heedless. 

Along with President Young, Heber pushed hard for economic self- 
sufficiency. All kinds of enterprises were fostered, and many men and fam- 
ilies were called and sent on economic missions to develop lead and coal 
mines, to grow cotton, tobacco, figs, grapes, and other fruits, to manufac- 
ture molasses, to navigate the Colorado River, or to grow silkworms. 

Kimball's Plantation 225 

Some of these missions worked, some did not. Experimental farms were 
more successful. 

Heber supported the organization of the Deseret Agricultural and 
Manufacturing Society which the general legislature organized in January, 
1856, "to promote the arts of domestic industry, and to encourage the 
production of articles from the native elements." This society lasted until 
1907, when it became the Utah State Fair Association. In recognition of 
his own economic enterprise, Heber was made an honorary member from 
the beginning. 


1. H. C. Kimball to David, Charles, and Brigham Kimball, Nov. 20, 1864, 
H. C. Kimball Papers, Church Archives. Daniel Davis's journal makes it clear, 
however, that Kimball did receive supplemental help from the church. The porch 
on his home may also have been built from temple materials. Salt Lake Temple 
Stonecutters Record, 1852—57, 1870-75, March, 1855, Church Archives. 

2. H. C. Kimball to Solomon Kimball, Feb. 29, 1852. Original in possession 
of Spencer H. Kimball. Used by permission. 

3. H. C. Kimball to Solomon Kimball, Jan. 2, 1857, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

4. He sometimes overextended himself. Once he bought 5,000 peach trees 
and then according to the Deseret News, Mar. 11, 1857, offered to dispose of 
them "at the rate of one-half less than he paid two or three years ago." 

5. Horace Greeley, An Overland journey from New York to San Francisco in 
the Summer of 1859 (i860; reprinted New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964), 204-5. 

6. Ludlow, The Heart of the Continent, 347. 

7. Ibid., 348-49. On at least one occasion in 1855 Heber did use too much 
water, but Water Master Phineas W. Cook was afraid to fine him. When Heber 
heard of this, he told Cook he "would cuff his ears if he did not fine him, told him 
not to be afraid of the big men, he was Water Master and expected to act like it." 
Heber paid the fine. The Life and History of Phineas Wolcott Cook, n.p., n.d., 
81-83. Utah State University Library. 

8. Kimball said he was using the hydraulic presses "brother Taylor brought 
into this country, and they are performing wonders. They will each press equal to a 
hundred and twelve tons weight." Journal of Discourses, vol. 9 (Apr. 7, 1861), 28. 
These were probably the same presses which had been imported from France in an 
unsuccessful attempt to make beet sugar. 

9. H. C. Kimball to "Brothers," May 15, 1861, Millennial Star, vol. 23 (July 
27, 1861), 478. 

10. Deseret News, June 20, 1 860. 

11. Ludlow, The Heart of the Continent, 349-52. Heber later built a second 
carding machine on Fifth North between Second and Third West. 


12. H. C. Kimball Estate Papers, Order Confirming Acts of Administration, 
Utah State Archives, Salt Lake City. 

13. Journal of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah, 1856-57, 

14. A. A. Kimball Journal, 334-35, in author's possession, Typescript in 
Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City. 

Abraham seemed destined for bad luck. Following lung problems in Salt Lake 
City and the wretched experience at Grantsville, two years later he was sent to 
Utah's "Dixie," south of St. George. There he and his family had to contend with 
wind, dust, scorpions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, and heat — heat so oppressive he 
declared that he would bathe at night in ditches, onions would cook in the sand, 
coffee and cold water placed in a canteen in the sun would steep itself, and if car- 
rots were watered in the morning they would be so cooked by noon that their skins 
slipped off when they were pulled. 

15. Journal of Discourses, vol. 8 (July 1, i860), 109. 

16. Deseret News, Mar. 5, 1853. Nine men bought thirty-four shares, of 
which Heber acquired three. See Ledger A, Great Salt Lake City waterworks Assn., 
Church Archives. 

17. "Speech by Counselor Kimball. . . ," Jan. 6, 1852, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

18. Journal of Discourses, vol. 2 (Aug. 13, 1853), 105. 


Reluctant Polygamist 

Sharing the reticence of most polygamists to speak of their family lives, 
Heber recorded little of it. From scattered jottings, letters, journals, and 
memoirs of his wives and children, however, it is possible to partially re- 
construct it to get an inside view of what sensational writers like to one- 
sidedly exploit. Of romance and passion there is little to report. We have 
already noted that Heber was a reluctant polygamist in the first place, that 
his first choices for plural wives were two spinster sisters, and that most of 
his first thirty-eight wives were sealed to him immediately prior to the ex- 
odus from Nauvoo and therefore were more family wards than wives. In 
Utah he married five times. Two were spinsters and two were widows with 
small children — more wards. Only once, after his first marriage, does 
something more than obligation and duty seem to have surfaced. The fifth 
Utah bride and last of all his wives was an English teenager. 

At best it is difficult to account for the number of Heber's immediate 
family at any given time. He was of little help. "I have a good many 
wives," he once said. "How much would you give to know how many? If I 
were to tell you, you would not believe it." At another time he said, "I have 
sixty to seventy subjects," or "I have twenty-three boys living and ten 
dead, and lots of girls." 1 One Mormon woman, disenchanted with polyg- 
amy and therefore not an entirely credible witness, asked him once, after 
meeting a number of his wives, "Are these all you have got?" He allegedly 
replied, "Oh dear no, I have a few more at home, and about fifty scattered 
over the earth somewhere; but I've never seen them since they were sealed 
to me in Nauvoo, and I hope I never shall again." 2 This figure of fifty may 
be wildly incorrect, but the anecdote could be an accurate reflection of his 
feelings regarding the ten wives who left him and the six unaccounted for 
after Winter Quarters. 

Prior to Utah he had been sealed to thirty-eight wives and had eigh- 
teen children. Of this total there were about thirty-seven family members 



with him in the Valley in September, 1848 — twenty-six wives and eleven 
children. Some wives and children had died or did not come west. After his 
arrival in Utah he married five more wives and sired forty-seven additional 
children, for a grand total of forty-three wives and sixty-five children, or 
108 dependents. (For comparison's sake, Brigham Young had twenty- 
seven wives and fifty-seven children, John D. Lee eighteen wives and sixty 
children, John W. Hess, the author's maternal great-grandfather, seven 
wives and sixty-three children, and Christopher Layton ten wives and 
sixty-five children.) 3 

Because of deaths, marriages, and separations, it appears that Heber 
never had more than seventy in his immediate family at any one time. This 
is the figure credited him in an i860 census. 4 In that year I can account for 
twenty-four wives and thirty-four under-age children with him. This 
means that he probably counted about twelve adopted or foster children 
as part of his family. He may have considered other adopted and foster 
children as partly his responsibility. Ten of his wives collectively had at 
least fifty-three children before their marriage to him. Most assuredly he 
was never even partially economically responsible for more than twenty- 
five of these children, and only three are mentioned in the sources. 

The following charts will help in understanding this complicated fam- 
ily. (See Appendix A for details on Heber's wives and children.) 

Number of Wives 

Wives who came west 28 

Wives married in the West 5 

Wives who died at Winter Quarters 2 

Wives known to have remained at Winter Quarters 2 

subtotal 37 
Wives unaccounted for in Utah 6 

total 43 
Wives who bore Kimball children 17 

Wives who left Kimball 16 

Number of Children 
Children by wives known to have remained in Winter Quarters 2 
Children by other wives known to have left Kimball 1 

Children by Kimball's "basic family" of twelve wives 57 

Children by the fourteen wives Kimball partially supported 
(one of these wives had the five children) 5 

total 65 
Number of children who lived to maturity 43 

Reluctant Polygamist 229 

By the mid-i85os Heber's plural family life had pretty well stabilized. 
A typical day would start out with early prayer, breakfast, consultation 
with members of his family, and an ordering of the day's work on his plan- 
tation and at his other enterprises. About nine o'clock he would walk 
cross-lots about 200 yards to President Young's office for council meet- 
ings, general discussion regarding the church and Kingdom, or meetings 
with visitors. Later he might go across the street to the Church Historian's 
Office (which was also a semi-official chancery) to dictate letters, sign doc- 
uments, or check copies of his sermons for publication. Several times a 
week he would spend part of the day in the Endowment House supervising 
temple ordinances. At other times he might tend to some aspect of coloniz- 
ing, or missionary work. Lunch was usually away from home. Evening 
would find him with one family unit or another and sometimes at the the- 
atre or a party. 

His immediate family consisted of a core of twelve units — twelve 
wives and eighteen children, or thirty individuals. In 1854, for example, 
he wrote a son, "I furnish the wood and fuel, bread, and vegetables, for 
twelve families, and the most of them their clothing. . . ." 5 On another 
occasion he compared his wives to "twelve teapots each holding equal 
quantities of good tea, yet differing in form." Just so with his wives, differ- 
ing in age and exterior, yet each of equal worth. 6 In 1855 William, from 
England, sent greetings back to twelve of his father's wives. 7 

In 1855 this basic group probably consisted of Vilate, forty-nine years 
old, and her sons David, Charles, and Solomon; the thirty-six-year-old 
childless Mary Ellen Harris; twenty-seven year-old Ann Alice Gheen and 
Samuel Heber; Amanda Gheen, twenty-four-year-old mother of William 
and Albert; thirty-two-year-old Christeen Golden and Jonathan Golden; 
Sarah Peak, his forty-three-year-old first plural wife, and her children Hen- 
ry and Sarah Helen; Ruth A. Reese, thirty-seven years old with Jacob; his 
twenty-nine-year-old Pioneer wife, Ellen Sanders with twins, Joseph and 
Augusta, and Rosalia; her thirty-year-old sister Harriet, whose only child 
had died the day it was born; and three widows of Joseph Smith, the 
twenty-eight-year-old Lucy Walker with John Heber and Willard Heber; 
twenty-seven-year-old Sarah Ann Whitney and David Heber and Newel 
Whitney; and the forty-four-year-old Presendia Huntington with her son 
Joseph Smith. In addition to this core group he apparently was also sup- 
porting nine other wives — all of whom may have been nonconnubial (i.e., 
wards): Laura Pitkin, Martha McBride, Mary Houston, Hulda Barnes, 
Mary Fielding, Theresa Morley, Rebecca Swain, Nancy Maria Winchester, 
and Sara Schuler. None of these bore him any children. 


Of the remaining seventeen wives he had married prior to 1855, some 
of whom may have been nonconnubial, two had remained in Winter 
Quarters with their father (Clarissa and Emily Cutler) and two had died 
there (Abigail Pitkin and Sophronia Harmon). Eight others left him for 
one reason or another — Ruth L. Pierce may have left as early as 1846 and 
appears to have remarried; Sylvia Porter Sessions separated in 1847 and 
remarried; Charlotte Chase left in 1849 and remarried in California; Eliz- 
abeth Hereford apparently left in 1850 and nothing further of her is 
known; Mary Ann Shefflin left in 1850 and remarried; Sarah Lawrence 
formally divorced Heber on June 18, 185 1, and apparently died in Cal- 
ifornia; Frances Swan seems to have left Utah in 1854; and Nancy Maria 
Winchester separated from Heber in 1865 and remarried. (Note that 
Nancy Maria Winchester has been counted twice: as a wife up to 1865 
and as a separatee after 1865.) The evidence suggests that such separations 
were agreeable and not limited to the Kimball household. Recent studies 
show that seventy-two early Mormon leaders collectively experienced 
eighty-one broken marriages and that Young granted 1,645 polygamous 
divorces. 8 Since the marriages were never recognized by the law of the land 
there was no need for divorce formalities, though ecclesiastical bills of di- 
vorce were often issued. Polygamous Mormon divorce was as easy for the 
wife (but not the husband) as among polygamists in the Old Testament. 

Only three of these twelve wives bore Heber any children. Clarissa 
Cutler had one son, Abraham, and her sister, Emily, also had one son, 
Isaac. Both sisters remarried and apparently died in Indian Territory, now 
Jefferson County, Kansas, in the early 1850s. Years later both sons, raised 
by maternal grandparents, joined their father in Utah. Frances Swan had 
an infant daughter, Margaret Jane, who died at Winter Quarters. 

Six other wives, Abigail Buchanan, Mary Dull, Margaret McMinn, 
Sarah Scott, Sarah Stiles, and Ruth Wellington, are totally unaccounted for 
after 1846. Perhaps they never left Nauvoo; or, after the hard winter in 
Winter Quarters, perhaps they returned to relatives in the East. 

In Utah during the Reformation Heber married five wives, four in 
1856 — two spinster sisters, fifty-four-year-old Hannah Moon and fifty- 
two-year-old Dorothy, daughters of one of his English converts; and two 
widows, the thrice-married forty-eight-year-old Elizabeth Doty and the 
twice-married twenty-eight-year-old Adelia Wilcox, whose husband had 
been killed by Indians in 1853. Finally, in 1857, he married his last wife, 
nineteen-year-old Mary Smithies, the girl he had blessed as an infant in 
England in 1837. Of Elizabeth Doty and the Moon sisters little is known. 
Adelia became a member of Heber's immediate household but bore him 
no children; and Mary gave him five children, of whom Abbie Sarah, born 

Reluctant Polygamist 231 

in 1865, was his last. Also, during the Reformation, Heber was sealed to 
two deceased sisters, Charlotte and Clarissa Young, who were nieces of 
Brigham. 9 

There is a family story that, during the Reformation, Heber preached 
that unmarried women who wanted to get married should seek out a good 
man and ask to be sealed to him. It appears that Adelia Wilcox took his 
advice; perhaps the Moon Sisters did also. A similar tale has Heber, when 
two women knock on his door, hiding in a closet for fear they have come 
to request that he marry them. 

The governing and support of such a large family even under ideal 
circumstances would have greatly taxed Heber's wisdom, time, patience, 
and financial resources and complicated his personal relationships. Heber, 
a grandson noted, "was often heard to declare that the plural order of 
marriage, with its manifold cares and perplexities, had cost him 'bushels 
of tears/" 10 Part of the problem was that, while the puritanical Heber 
maintained a close and loving relationship with his first family (Vilate and 
her children), he seemed to have less close ties with his plural wives and 
their children. One reason for this detachment and the second part of the 
problem was that all concerned were called upon to compromise the most 
deeply held personal beliefs and strongest cultural traditions regarding 
marriage and family life. Not even the weight of divine revelation, ap- 
probation, even command, eased the difficult transition from monogamy 
to plurality. There was also the question of time and energy. With his man- 
ifold church duties he did well to keep close to one family. 

Death, uncooperative wives, and disobedient children brought him 
much grief. Prior to 1848 four of his children had died. In Utah he lost 
eighteen more children and ten wives, and as just noted, eight more wives 
left him (bringing the total to eighteen). Others were uncooperative. As 
early as 1849 he wrote to Vilate, "Your duty is to look after your children 
and teach your sisters [his plural wives] ... to mind thare own business 
and to treet thare husband with respect and let my business alone and hold 
thare toungs when they want to speak evil to me. . . ," n On February 3, 
185Z, he confided in a private memorandum book, "The Spirit said I 
should devote my time to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints 
and I should not be under the Law of Lawless women any more in time as 
I have fulfilled the Law and am now free from such Spirits. . . ." l2 

In some of his public sermons we find references to domestic discord. 
He said that he would deed his property to the church so that his family 
would not quarrel over it; that he was not always responsible for his 
wives; that wives should not rebel; that he had one or two wives he could 
not control; and that he was not so foolish as to quarrel with women. n 


In 1857 he became convinced that Christeen Golden was "not one 
with him." It was Heber's custom to bless his infants and give them a name 
while their mothers were present. He named his children after good people 
and anticipated that the power and spirit of those good people would in- 
fluence his children. He claimed that he could "read its [the child's] spirit 
when alone with the child or in company with those who were of the same 
spirit as himself." 14 Apparently something unfortunate happened at the 
time he blessed Christeen Golden's infant son, Elias, for afterward he said 
he had never "desired to bless his children in the presence of their mothers 
since; and did not believe he would should he live a thousand years. He 
said the observations that several of his wives made at that time wounded 
his feelings severely and grieved the spirit of the Lord. And the day would 
come when they would feel sorrowful on account of it. He said we did not 
realize that he was a servant of god or dictated by his spirit or we would 
never treat him as we often did. . . ." 1S According to family lore, Heber 
blessed Elias with all the strengths of his father and none of the weak- 
nesses of his mother. If this be true, it certainly explains the ensuing 

At the 1 861 April conference, he once told a story of a man who was 
proud of his son but whose wife pulled the son from him. Then, without 
explanation and perhaps unconsciously, he continued the story in the first 
person — "I said, God my father will take that child from you[r arms] far 
quicker than you took him from mine, and not more than ten days after- 
wards it was in its grave." 16 This story seems to be a thinly disguised inci- 
dent in his own family. 

Several of his sons brought their father sorrow. His eldest, William, 
was disfellowshipped for a time in i860 for drunkenness, 17 and in 1863 
Vilate wrote to another son that she hoped he would never cause her the 
sorrow "that William does." 18 In 1864 Heber expressed disappointment 
that his son "Brigham has no interest in matters of my business and is 
drawn away from his studies." 19 Vilate once wrote that David was trying 
to "heal the wound he has made in his father's heart, and mine. . . ." 20 
David was for a time inactive in the church but later served as a stake pres- 
ident, Isaac had problems with liquor, and Solomon took little interest in 
the church until he was in his mid-thirties. At the funeral of a son, Heber 
said on December 14, 1864, "Nineteen of my children are in the spirit 
world, and the parting with them has not given me as much sorrow, nor 
brought as many white hairs on my head, as those have done who now 
live." 21 

However unromantic, detached, and disappointed Heber may have 

Reluctant Polygamist 23 3 

been, he did his best for the physical welfare of all his dependents. During 
the winter of 1848—49 and for several years thereafter his families lived in 
the one-room homes within the fort, with other families, in tents, wagon- 
boxes, and other temporary shelters. (We know, for example, that Vilate 
used her wagon-box as a private bedroom for four years until Heber 
finished his large family home. 22 She obviously preferred that privacy to 
the crowded cabins with only blankets for partitions.) They also lived in 
"adobe row," some small dwellings he built on the south side of his ten- 
acre lot. 

During the following spring the fort was generally abandoned and the 
Saints began to build more substantial homes. Heber commenced a large 
home on the lot which took nearly three years, until February, 1852, to 
finish. This home, facing west, years later was officially designated 142 
North Main Street. It stood until the 1920s, when it was razed and the 
Kimball Apartments built in its place. It consisted of a white two-story 
frame rectangle thirty feet wide by fifty-six feet long containing sixteen 
plastered and painted rooms. 23 To this core were added wash-, wood-, and 
storehouses. Several years later Heber added a splendid two-story porch 
on the west end, which commanded a full view of Temple Square, most of 
the city, and the Valley. 

On the main floor, Vilate's quarters were in the front and Sarah Peak's 
in the rear. A "Girls* Parlor" opened off Vilate's rooms and there was a 
large dining room. In the parlor was a huge piano which, although several 
pianos were hauled west from Winter Quarters, Heber most likely im- 
ported from St. Louis to keep his promise to his daughter Helen. In the 
Old West a piano was as much a symbol of permanence, stability, respect- 
ability, and dignity as it was an instrument. On the second floor in the 
front was Heber's private bedroom. Opposite was a spinning room. Else- 
where were the storage room and several large and small bedrooms for 
some of his wives and children. The parlor was enormous — 18 by 40 feet. 
Here guests were entertained and family funerals were held. 

The Kimball household was so extensive that Heber kept his own 
storehouse on the premises. Later in her life one of his daughters recorded 
a charming little story about an incident with her father in this storehouse. 

My sister Sarah was two years younger than me and one day when 
we were very small, father took us to his store-house where he kept 
supplies of shoes, drygoods and whatnot for his family. He was going 
to give us each a pair of shoes. Like all little girls we went in delighted 
with the prospect of having some pretty new shoes. Father placed us 
on a table or counter, and took off our old shoes. He took down from 


a shelf two pairs of old ladies' shoes. I can see them now, low topped, 
wide soles, low heels. He put them on our feet, laced them up and tied 
them, then told us to walk. We were horrified. I kept a stiff upper lip 
but I saw that Sarah was weakening. Father gave one of his charac- 
teristic laughs, sat us up on the table again and took them off. Then 
he put on our feet some shoes that were anything but pretty but they 
came somewhere near fitting us, and we went home rejoicing. 

This puzzled me for a long time. Why should my father who 
seemed to know everything take the time to put such shoes on the feet 
of two little girls when anyone could see that they would not do at all? 
It finally dawned upon me that had he, in the first place, given us the 
shoes that finally pleased us we would have been greatly disappointed. 
But after our first shock we went away happy and contented. 24 

Which wives lived in the big home and how they were selected has not 
been recorded. We do know that in the late 1860s Vilate, Sara Peak, Ellen 
Sanders, Ruth Reese, Christeen Golden, Laura Pitkin, and Adelia Wilcox 
lived there at times. The rest of his family lived in different homes "within 
a rifle shot (about 200 yards)" of the big home. 

In 1857, Sarah Ann Whitney, Lucy Walker, Ellen Sanders, and Mar- 
tha McBride lived together in one house; Mary Ellen Harris, Mary Smith- 
ies, and Elizabeth Doty lived at one time across the street from the main 
home; at another time Sarah Ann Whitney, Lucy Walker, Mary Houston, 
and Presendia Huntington lived in another home on the Kimball block; 
once Hulda Barnes, Harriet Sanders, and Presendia Huntington lived to- 
gether. There was, apparently, considerable shifting around. Several wives 
lived at a distance. Lucy Walker later lived in Provo, Amanda Gheen went 
to Bountiful, and the Moon sisters apparently settled in Farmington. 

Since Heber was the most married man in the modern Western world, 
his opinions of women are noteworthy. (One must keep in mind, however, 
that his love for his first wife, Vilate, was unqualified and that some of his 
harsher comments may have been deliberate rhetorical overstatement.) Al- 
though he claimed that u No man on this earth loves women better than I 
do," that "I hate to have the ladies angry with me, above all things," and 
that "they were made for angelic beings," he could be rough and unflatter- 
ing about them in his sermons. 25 

Not surprisingly he stressed obedience: "I had rather have one wom- 
an that is humble than twenty that are not"; "I do not want a woman to 
tell me that she loves me, when she does not keep my commandments" ; "It 
is the duty of a woman to be obedient to her husband, and unless she is, I 
would not give a damn for her queenly right. . . ." Women were to be led, 

Reluctant Polygamist 235 

and Heber advised the sisters to leave a man who was so weak they could 
lead him. 2 " 

He certainly must have disturbed the sisters in general and his wives 
in particular when he declared in reference to Brigham Young and Jede- 
diah Grant, "I love these men, God knows I do, better than I ever loved a 
woman; and I would not give a damn for a man that does not love them 
better than they love women. A man is a miserable being if he lets a 
woman stand between him and his file leader; he is a fool, and I have no 
regard for him; he is not fit for the Priesthood." Or "I love brother Brig- 
ham Young better than I do any woman upon this earth, because my will 
runs into his, and his into mine. . . ." or "Why should I love a woman 
more than a man. They are no more to me than good men." He announced 
that if any of his wives were to object to his sustaining Young over them 
and threaten to leave, "I should reply, 'Leave, and be damned.' '* He would 
give them "all the writings [bills of divorcement] you want; and, besides 
that, I will give you the means to help you away." 27 

Sometimes he publicly criticized a man who "had a woman straddle 
of his neck." Most men with only one wife could hardly have afforded 
such statements. The much-married Heber, however, could and did. He 
claimed he seldom quarreled with his wives, because "when a man begins 
to dispute them about nine times out of ten I get up and say, 'Go it,' and 
then go off about my business; and if ever I am foolish as to quarrel with a 
woman, I ought to be whipped; for you may always calculate that they will 
have the last word." 28 

He criticized the sisters for their idling around the Tithing House 
from morning until night: "What are you lounging about there for, with 
your dresses and petticoats, looking as though they were sadly in want of 
soap and repairing?"; for their quarreling, and divorces: "Some woman 
will marry a man one day, and call for a divorce the next." He criticized 
them for their "little peevish, trifling complaints" and for their tattling, 
lying, and mischief-making: "You never saw a woman that is continually 
parading the streets, but what was a tattler," "1 can tell you there are not 
one-half of the women that are fit for wives when they are married. They 
have not been instructed in home manufacture, and some of them have 
scarcely learned to wash the dishes properly or to take care of things about 
the house; and the young men are just as bad." 29 

He was particularly critical of women's love of finery. It was hard to 
build the Kingdom of God "while you take a course to make slaves of your 
husbands through your love of finery." He mocked them: "Oh, dear, I 
want to know if we ain't going to have any more ribbons." He had to "pay 
every dime I can get for morocco shoes, for my women to wear to meet- 


ing." He excoriated men for being under "pettycoat government," and 
considered bonnets "a cursed disgrace to the Saints." The Sisters should 
have been content with homespun cloth as he was. 30 

Apparently he realized that he was critical. Once in full oratorical 
flight he stopped and asked, "Brother Brigham, am I scolding?" Young 
said "I don't know," and then Heber adroitly concluded, "He says he don't 
know; and if he don't, how is it likely that you should?" Some of the Sis- 
ters must have bristled when he said, "I will tell you one thing, and that is, 
all you that are ladies will not find fault [with the preaching]; but the 
woman that finds fault with me I can analyse her, and show you she is not 
a lady." On another occasion he asked, "Now, am I hard upon the sisters? 
No, the good woman sits here and says it is heaven to her to listen to such 
teachings. I do not wish to say anything to such a person; but it is these 
that are guilty that I am after." 31 

About domineering women he said, "When you see a woman with 
ragged skirts, you may know she wears the unmentionables, for she is do- 
ing the man's business, and has not time to cut off the rags that are hang- 
ing around. From this time henceforth you may know that woman wears 
her husband's pants." 32 Later he added, "You know that I have said that 
the women who goes about with the lower edges of her clothes draggled 
into strings and fragments are the women who rule their husbands; they 
are so constantly making snaps and flirts, like a whip lash." 33 His wives do 
not seem to have resented his sharp words. At least no surviving docu- 
ments record such displeasure. Indeed some, in spite of these publicly ex- 
pressed sentiments and private domestic discord, praised and admired 

On the subject of plural marriage he made but a few characteristically 
blunt observations. He believed God instituted the plurality of wives "to 
raise up a pure posterity," that "Some of the most noble spirits are waiting 
with the Father to this day to come forth through the right channels and 
the right kind of men and women," 34 that "The Lord designs that we shall 
be separate and distinct from every other people and wishes to make us 
His peculiar people, and to raise up for himself a pure seed ... for this 
reason did he give the revelation on plurality of wives, as sacred a revela- 
tion as was ever given to any people. . . ," 3S and finally "The principle of 
plurality of wives never will be done away with although some sisters have 
had revelations that, when this time passes away and they go through the 
veil, every woman will have a husband to herself," and that it will be prac- 
ticed in heaven. He told the story: "In the spirit world there is an increase 
of males and females, there are millions of them, and if I am faithful all the 

Reluctant Polygamist 237 

time, and continue right along ... He [Joseph Smith] will say to us, 
'Come along, my hoys . . . Where are your wives?' They are hack yonder; 
they would not follow us. 'Never mind,' says Joseph, 'here are thousands, 
have all you want.'" * h 

In reference to the trouble some younger wives had with elder ones he 
said, "Now on the doctrine and practice of plurality, one woman will 
sometimes think that she is queen, and the others have no right to speak or 
to do anything without her consent. If I had a case of that kind to adjudi- 
cate, 1 would be very apt to say to the woman, 'Serve her faithfully, bear 
with her patiently, and the day will come when you will set above her, no 
matter where she is now.'" 

In further acknowledgment of the trials of polygamy, he once com- 
forted a girl whose plural-wife mother sometimes "felt badly" by saying, 
"Pshaw . . . there is not one respectable Woman in this church but what 
would feel bad under such circumstances, and 1 know there is no Woman 
can ever feel worse than my Wife has done, and she is just as good a 
Woman as ever lived, and 1 never blamed her for feeling bad but loved her 
the more." 3 ^ 

Contrary to widespread belief, polygamy was never popular among 
Mormons. Despite the penchant of many writers to fantasize about the 
romantic delights of polygamy and the desires of many men to have mis- 
tresses and concubines, few in or out of the Mormon Church have ever 
cared much for the real and legal responsibilities of plurality. To most it 
appears to have been an onerous obligation, coupled with the imperative 
to be fruitful. There is little evidence that men became Mormons to have 
more than one wife. On occasion, in fact, Heber would harangue the 
young men to take more wives. "1 wish more of our young men would take 
themselves wives of the daughters of Zion," he complained, "and not wait 
for us old men to take them all." 3 " He did not think that taking even two 
wives was obeying the celestial law in full. In his view a righteous man had 
to have several. 

In this respect neither he nor Young was successful with his own sons. 
Of Heber's thirty-one sons who lived to maturity only three, William, 
Abraham, and David Patton, took plural wives; 39 of Young's seventeen 
sons only four practiced polygamy. Estimates of the percentage of Mor- 
mon families involved in plural marriage in Utah vary from 2 to 20 per- 
cent, but it was probably close to 15. All estimates, however, show the 
Mormons woefully negligent in living this commandment.^" 

To promote plurality (right after he took his young last wife), Heber 
even went so far as to suggest that the reason he and Young held their ages 
so well was because of polygamy: "I would not be afraid to promise a man 


who is sixty years of age, if he will take the counsel of brother Brigham 
and his brethren, that he will renew his age. I noticed that a man who has 
but one wife, and is inclined to that doctrine, soon begins to wither and 
dry up, while a man who goes into plurality looks fresh, young, and 
sprightly. Why is this? Because God loves that man, and because he hon- 
ours His work and word. Some of you may not believe this; but 1 not only 
believe it — 1 also know it. For a man of God to be confined to one woman 
is small business; for it is as much as we can do now to keep up under the 
burdens we have to carry; and 1 do not know what we should do if we had 
only one wife apiece." 41 

This statement suggests that, in spite of the economic and domestic 
problems of polygamy, there were definite physical and psychological ben- 
efits. Perhaps he was implying that a man with several wives could always 
find companionship with at least one. Heber was a good example of this 
argument. After he took his last wife at age fifty-six, he begot seventeen 
children by her and by four other wives. Some Mormons even believed 
that one reason the old biblical patriarchs lived so long was because of 

Some of his wives also praised the institution. "Those who have en- 
tered into the plurality with honest hearts," said Laura Pitkin, "are sure of 
a great glory. Some years ago he [Heber] said to me that such women were 
sanctifying themselves both body and spirit and that the first and greatest 
blessings were for them." 42 

Mary Ellen Harris saw it as a test requisite to learning more of the 
great commandment of love. "Well, after looking at plural marriage under 
all its disadvantages and disgust I could think of," she said, "1 came to the 
conclusion that the Lord must have a tried people. What test could be 
given to prove us like this? If we are Saints we must love our neighbor as 
our self, and truly and faithfully show this love in all the walks of life. 
Could I love the woman whose husband I should take for my own? Could 
she ever love me, and forgive me for taking such a step. These feelings 
weighed me down for a season." 43 

Adelia Wilcox, shortly before her death in 1896, wrote her brief 
memoirs, which included some observations regarding polygamy and 
Heber's family during the years 1856 through 1867. Part of her account is 
unique. She tells how, in 1856, as a twenty-eight-year-old widow with two 
children, she arranged for her future. While she and her non-Mormon hus- 
band were en route from Illinois to California in 1853, he was killed in 
Fillmore, Utah, during the Walker [Indian] War. Thereafter she lived for 
two years in Springfield as the second wife of a Gideon D. Wood. The first 

Reluctant Polygamist 239 

Mrs. Wood, however, had resented her, so Adelia had her sealing, or mar- 
riage, cancelled and went to Salt Lake City. 

Now 1 began to think seriously upon my condition, upon this state 
and my future state of existence and felt that 1 should choose one that 
would not only be able to save himself, but me also. That is one who 
by his daily walk and habits and good counsel would make such im- 
pressions on my mind that I would want to walk the same path that 
he trod. . . . 

Now I could think of no person that could fill this responsible place 
better than Heber C. Kimball for 1 had always looked upon him as 
being as near perfect as man could be and live in the flesh. So 1 con- 
cluded to become his wife, but before doing so I wanted to know how 
sister Vilate Kimball felt to have more added to their large family. 

1 did so. She seemed perfectly willing, but gave me to understand 
that there was a great many things to put up with in such a large fam- 
ily. Now this I was prepared for and made up my mind to so live that I 
would not be a detriment to them. So on the 9th of October 1856 
Vilate went to the Endowment House with me and gave me to her 
husband to be his wife for time and all eternity. 44 

This candid observation clarifies much about Mormon polygamy. An 
unqualified, unexplained commandment of God though it was, a means of 
raising up a righteous seed too, it was also a way of honorably guarantee- 
ing widows and unmarried females economic security and social position 
on the frontier. (This comment also provides more evidence of Vilate's 
support of plural marriage.) 

Adelia went to live with several of Heber's wives, Sarah Ann Whitney, 
Lucy Walker, Ellen Sanders, and Martha McBride, "all eating at the same 
table, but each one having their own separate rooms." The worst they had 
to contend with, she said, "was having so many children together for when 
they were all in the house they made a good deal of confusion. This we got 
along with as well as we could be expected for each woman tried to culti- 
vate her share of patience. ... All trying to do their part in the good cause 
they were engaged in." They were very busy, mending, spinning, making 
clothes, and engaged in other such chores. Occasionally, she said, "when 
our Lord [Heber] could find time he would come in and visit us and in- 
struct and teach us our duty and if he saw anything he thought was wrong 
in any one of us he was not slow to tell us." 

Once Adelia suffered an infected hand and could do little. For weeks 
she was waited on and cared for by the others, Ellen Sanders in particular. 
Whatever jealousy there may have been was submerged. 


Sometime later Adelia went to live in the "big house" on North Main 
Street with Vilate, Mary Ellen Harris, Christeen Golden, Ruth Reese, 
Sarah Peak, Mary Smithies, Laura Pitkin, and nine children. "I found them 
all good women," she said, "each one took their share of work and every- 
thing went in order." Laura spun, knitted, and laid out dress patterns; 
Ruth was a good tailor and made Heber's clothes, and Christeen did his 
washing and saw that his clothes were kept in order. They all shared in 
the general housework, doing Vilate's for her as "her health was very 
delicate. " 

During the summer of 1862 Vilate went to live with her son William 
at his ranch in Parley's Park and left Adelia in charge of the big house. At 
this time Heber's son Abraham, son of Clarissa Cutler, who had remained 
in Winter Quarters with her father, came to Salt Lake City. He was then a 
rough sixteen-year-old on his way to fortune in California. Out of curi- 
osity he hesitatingly decided to look up the father he had never known. 
Tired, dirty, nearly in rags, and fearful of the Mormons, Abraham entered 
the Kimball yard at dinnertime. As soon as Heber learned who he was he 
welcomed Abraham with open arms, ordered up food, a bath, and a com- 
plete change of clothing: a lost one had returned. Such a reception ended 
Abraham's plans for California. He stayed. "We got to have gay times that 
fall," Adelia noted, "after he [Abraham] came when the boys were at 

"Brigham and Solomon were near his age," Adelia added, and Char- 
ley would come up, and he was as much a boy as any of them. And I got to 
thinking sometimes they would tear the house down, they were so rough. 
And, [daughter] Mary E. would lock herself up in my room to get out of 
their way. Abe lived with us for awhile and with Ruth and Christeen and 
when school commenced we were all very thankful for we had a little rest 
from the noise and confusion that they made." 45 

The following spring, Abe, a newly baptized and ordained Elder, and 
his half-brother Charles went east, Charles to England on a mission and 
Abraham to Manti, Iowa, to bring back his half-brother Isaac, son of Em- 
ily Cutler, who had also chosen to remain in Winter Quarters with her 
father. 46 (Both mothers had long since died.) Abe returned with Isaac and 
in 1865 married Adelia's daughter Mary Eliza. 

Apparently Vilate spent more than one summer with her son William; 
perhaps she wanted to escape the heat of the Valley floor. Ludlow records 
meeting her there in June, 1863, when his overland coach stopped to 
change horses: "I found myself," he wrote, "in a sunny, low ceiled sitting- 

Reluctant Polygamist 241 

room, where a fine-looking matron, somewhere in her well preserved 
fifties, sat talking to a pair of very tidy and prepossessing young women, 
both under twenty-five and each holding a healthy baby." 47 

As Ludlow chatted away he complimented Vilate regarding what he 
took to be her two daughters and grandchildren. "These babies, sir," Vil- 
ate said gravely, "are the children of my son, now abroad on the Lord's 
business — my son, Mr. Kimball, after whom this place is called. These 
young ladies are his wives, and I am the first wife of one you have often ere 
this heard of in the States — Heber Kimball, second President, and next to 
our prophet Brigham Young in the government of Utah/' Such was Lud- 
low's first personal contact with plural marriage. He was frankly aston- 
ished that the two young wives appeared so content. He could not under- 
stand why they had not "pounced upon each other with a tigrine spring, 
seamed each others' faces with relentless nails, tore hair, gouged eyes, bit, 
maimed, killed!" 

His description of Vilate is unique: 

Mrs. Heber Kimball the first, though rapidly nearing her grand cli- 
macteric, was the finest-looking woman whom I saw in Utah. In the 
Highlands of Scotland she might have been Helen McGregor [wife of 
a famous eighteenth-century chief]; in Palmyra, Zcnobia; in France, 
Joan of Arc. . . . She was considerably above woman's middle size; 
her hair, slightly grizzled, was dressed neatly back beneath a plain, 
snow-white cap; her figure was erect, and the embodiment of strength 
and endurance; her eyes, which seemed a bluish gray, were fearless, 
and looked straightforward; her mouth was almost masculine in its 
firmness; her nose a finely cut aristocratic Roman. . . . her manner 
[was] perfectly self-poised, replete with influential and winning dig- 
nity, and expressive of a powerful will, strong for the control of her 
own faculties, as well as the whole nature of other people; her voice 
pleasant, yet commanding; her general expression that of pride with- 
out self-consciousness, and courage untainted by braggadocio. She 
was a woman to make you stop and look back after her in a crowded 
thoroughfare; she would have arrested your attention anywhere, on 
Broadway, the Strand, or the most thronged portion of the Parisian 
Boulevards." 4 " 

Ludlow was not surprised, when he later met Heber, that she was "the 
wife to whom he most deferred, and in whose wisdom he had the most 
implicit confidence." 



i. Journal of Discourses, vol. 5 (July 29, 1857), 91, vol. 5 (Aug. 30, 1857), 
161, vol. 4 (Dec. 21, 1856), 145. 

2. Fanny Stenhouse, Tell It All {Hartford, Conn.: A.D. Worthington, 1890), 
385. The title varies from edition to edition. 

3. The actual number of Young's wives is debatable (he had children by six- 
teen), but not the number of his children. As a descendant of both Kimball and 
Hess, the author is related to about half the Mormons of Utah. 

4. Historian's Office Journal, Nov. 26, i860, Church Archives. 

5. H. C. Kimball to William Kimball, Dec. 21, 1854, Millennial Star, vol. 17 
(Apr. 21, 1855), 252. 

6. Mary Ellen Kimball Journal, Mar. 15, 1859, Church Archives. 

7. William Kimball to H. C. Kimball, June 28, 1855, H. C. Kimball Papers., 
Church Archives. 

8. Quinn, "Organizational Development and Social Origins of the Mormon 
Hierarchy," 248-91, and Campbell and Campbell, "Divorce among Mormon Po- 
lygamists: Extent and Explanations," 5. 

9. Endowment House Sealing Records, June 17, 1856, Church Archives. 

10. O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 426. 

11. H. C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, Feb. 1 2, 1 849. Original in possession of 
Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission. 

12. Private Memorandum Book, Feb. 3, 1852, H. C. Kimball Papers, Church 

13. Journal of Discourses, vol, 2 (Apr. 2, 1854), 153, vol. 5 (Sept. 27, 1857), 


14. Mary Ellen Kimball Journal, July 5, 1857, Church Archives. 

15. Ibid., 9. 

16. Journal of Discourses, vol. 9 (Apr. 7, 1861), 26. 

17. Journal History of the Church, Jan. 1, i860. 

18. Vilate Kimball to Charles Kimball, Sept. 21, 1863, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

19. H. C. Kimball to David and Charles Kimball, Feb. 21, 1864, H. C. Kim- 
ball Papers, Church Archives. 

20. Vilate Kimball to Charles Kimball, Sept. 27, 1863, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

21. Journal of Discourses, vol. 10 (Nov. 29, 1864), 371. 

22. Vilate Kimball's obituary, Deseret News, Dec. 25, 1867. 

23. H. C. Kimball to Solomon Kimball, Feb. 29, 1852. Original in possession 
of Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission. 

24. Alice K. Smith, "Musing and Reminiscences on the Life of Heber C. Kim- 
ball," Improvement Era (June, 1930), 559. 

25. Journal of Discourses, vol. 5 (Aug. 2, 1857), 136, vol. 5 (Aug. 30, 1857), 
195, vol. 2 (Apr. 2, 1854), 154. 

Reluctant Polygamist 243 

26. Ibid., vol. 4 (Oct., 1856), 1 22, vol. 4 (Nov. 2, 1856), 165, vol. 4 (Nov. 9, 
1856), 82, vol. 5 (July 12, 1857), 30. 

27. Ibid., vol. 4 (Dec. 4, i 856), i 38, vol. 4 (Jan. 25, 1 857), 277, vol. 8 (June 
3, i860), 87, vol. 5 (July 12, 1857), 28, vol. s (Sept. 27, 1857), 274. 

28. Ibid., vol. 5 (Sept. 27, 1857), 277. 

29. Ibid., vol. 4 (Dec. 21, 1856), 144, vol. 4 (Jan. 25, 1857), 277, vol. 5 
(Sept. 27, 1857), 276, vol. 6 (Dec. 1 3, 1 857), 1 26, vol. 6 (Dec. 27, 1857), 1 89. 

30. lbid.,\o\. 5 (July 12, 1857), 33, vol. 5 (Aug, 2, 1857), 136, vol. 5 (Aug. 
2, 1857), 137, vol. 8 (Oct. 6, i860), 251, vol. 8 (July 1, i860), 1 11. 

3 1. Ibid. , vol. 8 (July 1, i860), 1 1 1, vol. 5 (Aug. 30, 1857), 1 59, vol. 5 (Sept. 
27, 1857), 276. 

32. Ibid.,vo\. 2 (Apr. 2, 1854), 154. 

33. Ibid., vol. 4 (Dec. 21, 1856), 144. 

34. Ibid., vol. 5 (July 26, 1857), 92. 

35. Ibid.,\o\. 11 (Apr. 4, i 866), 210. 

36. Ibid., vol. 4 (Feb. 1, 1857), 209. 

37. Mary Haskins Parker Diary, typescript, 31-32, University of Utah, Salt 
Lake City. 

38. journal of Discourses, vol. 3 (Oct. 6, 1855), 125. 

39. William married five wives and had twenty-six children. Abraham mar- 
ried three wives and had fourteen children by the first two. David had two wives. 
Three of Heber's adopted sons, Charles Hubbard, John Forsgren, and Hans C. 
Hansen, were also polygamists. At least two of Heber's daughters, Helen and Ann 
Alice Gheen, lived in polygamy, as did at least two daughters of Young. 

40. Ivins, "Notes on Mormon Polygamy/' 230. 

41. Journal of Discourses, vol. 5 (Apr. 6, 1857), 26. There is a female version 
of this view by the semi-official "high priestess" of early Mormonism, Eliza R. 
Snow — a childless wife of two prophets, Joseph and Brigham, and sister to a third, 
Lorenzo Snow. No other woman in Mormon history, not even Joseph's first wife, 
Emma, ever played a role comparable to Eliza's. She wrote, "From personal knowl- 
edge I bear my testimony that Plural Celestial marriage is a pure and holy princi- 
ple, not only tending to individual purity and elevation of character, but also in- 
strumental in producing a more perfect type of manhood mentally and physically, 
as well as in restoring human life to its former longevity." Spencer J. Palmer, "Eliza 
R. Snow's Sketch of My Life: Reminiscences of One of Joseph Smith's Plural 
Wives," Brigham Young University Studies, vol. 12 (Autumn, 1 97 1 ), 129 — 30. 

42. Laura Pitkin Kimball Journal, Dec. 16, 1858, Church Archives. 

43. Mary Ellen Kimball Journal, May 9, 1858, Church Archives. 

44. Adelia Almira Hatton Memoirs, 17. 

45. Ibid., 18, 19, 20, 24. 

46. As noted above, Abraham was born at Nauvoo, did not go west with his 
father, and was reared by his grandfather, Alpheus Cutler, after his mother died 
when he was an infant. Cutler never did go west, but established his own church, 
the Cutlerite, and settled in Manti, Iowa. It was from Manti that Abraham started 


out for California in iS6z. The Cutlerite church still exists in Independence, Mo., 
and in Minnesota, but has less than fifty adherents. This was not the first time 
Heber had tried to establish contact with these two distant sons. In 1855 he wrote 
his son William that when he returned from his mission in England, "I want you 
when you come to make calculation when you come to find Father Cutler, hunt up 
those two brothers of yours, and bring them with you if you possibly can. Write to 
Franklin or some of them, and find out [how] they feel about it and if you cannot 
get them, get some clothing for them. If you were to leave money it would be spent 
without their receiving the benefit." H. C. Kimball to William Kimball, May 28, 
1855, H. C. Kimball Papers, Church Archives. 

47. Ludlow, the Heart of the Continent, 307— 1 3. 

48. Ibid., 310-11. 


Kimball at Home 

Heber seems to have done his best as a father and husband in showing 
affection, if not love, to all of his extended family. Home and family life 
appears generally to have been as happy and healthy as the highly unusual 
circumstances would permit. 

He was also very patriarchal, a benevolent dictator who insisted on 
order, discipline, obedience, neatness, cleanliness, good manners, and high 
morals. He was concerned that his children be taught "true principles," 
but he had little time for teaching himself. In 1855 he wrote to four of his 
wives, Ann and Amanda Gheen, Lucy Walker, and Sarah Ann Whitney. "I 
say to all my wives teach our children to pray and teach the truth plain and 
simple. ... I have no time to teach children. I teach you and you teach 
them and my head teaches me. . . . Now if I listen to my head and you 
listen to your head and the children to thare head how long will it take to 
make a heaven at home." And there was protocol. Each family member 
was in turn assigned to superintend routine family affairs, to act as major- 
domo in trying to end confusion and solve minor problems.' Vilate super- 
vised the table, at which one's position seemed to matter. "Mother," an 
adopted daughter wrote an absent family member, "arranged all at the 
table in what she termed proper order ... I was seated next to Vira and 
opposite David . . . but when you return I expect to be moved away 
around the end of Anna." 2 

Above all, the cardinal rule was that no one wife under any circum- 
stances was to reprove, correct, or sit in judgment on another wife. That 
was Heber's exclusive prerogative. Little is known on the touchy subject of 
disciplining plural wives. One "outsider," however, recorded an informa- 
tive anecdote which might be true. An Italian, Count Leonetto Cipriani, 
broke his 1853 overland trip to California, as did many others in those 
days, to take a look at the Mormons. Apparently the Count's English was 
not very good, for instead of meeting a member of the First Presidency, he 



ended up interviewing Apostle John Taylor — a former missionary to 
France — in French. On the subject of correcting polygamous wives Taylor 
is supposed to have said, "We correct them by admonition and with gen- 
tleness, and when that does not suffice we impose a silence, a punishment 
which we have found to be most effective with a woman." 1 

Heber loved neatness, but did not want to see his wives "tired out, 
lifeless, and numb." He was orderly and disliked noise, but if necessary, "a 
person could come and turn the stove over and do it in order and it would 
not disturb him." 4 

He was a stickler for cleanliness. Once at a conference in Payson in 
1855 he chided the Saints, urging them to "slick up a little" and saying 
that their bedbugs would get him or an angel if they stayed overnight 
there. Two days later at a conference in Ephraim he criticized the people 
for having everything in a "common splather." 5 He was even more par- 
ticular about personal cleanliness. "The people," he said, must learn and 
practice cleanliness in this life; some people think they can live all their 
days in filth and dirt, never even wash their bodies then die and go to 
heaven and be clean. But if you do not learn and practice this lesson in this 
life you will have to learn and practice it in the next before you will be 
received into the society of those who are clean and pure and holy."" 

In 1868 he spoke to the brethren on personal cleanliness before going 
through the temple. They were to change their clothing completely to be 
clean in body and spirit, and to refrain from intercourse with their wives 
for several days preceding. Women were not to go to the temple for a week 
"after menses were upon them." 7 

Heber's emphasis on cleanliness may have been partly religious, and 
partly a matter of good hygiene. He and his family suffered from sore eyes, 
the ague, gastroenteritis, bilious fever, head colds, liver complaints, quin- 
sey (tonsilitis), falls, and accidents. Heber fell on the ice once and broke a 
finger; later he was badly hurt by being thrown from a wagon. He seems 
to have suffered progressively from bowel and stomach disorders. By 1865 
he was afflicted with rheumatic pains, wore glasses, used false teeth, and 
claimed to be "naturally consumptive." Probably because of Willard Rich- 
ards, Heber favored Thompsonian herbal doctors. In i860 the family phy- 
sician, Dr. Hovey, prescribed four powerful emetics for him within less 
than two months. 8 Because of or in spite of the treatment, he survived and 
regained his health. 

The primitive, if not barbaric, Thompsonian system was based on 
two principles — cleanse the body and then restore lost heat. First, the 
body was cleansed or purged by emetics and enemas; second, the lost heat 
was restored by having the patient take hot baths, eat cayenne pepper and 

Kimball at Home 247 

ginger, and drink medicines made from bayberries, sumac, and red rasp- 
berries 9 — hardly an ideal treatment for an inflamed stomach and bowel 
lining. Once, probably jokingly, Heber asked why people referred to good 
and bad health. Health could only be good; to him "bad health" was a 
contradiction in terms. 

In later life Heber was still physically impressive — six feet tall, weigh- 
ing over 200 pounds, barrel-chested (some say his chest was as thick front 
to back as from side to side), dark-eyed, balding, with sideburns which 
met under his clean-shaven cheeks and chin, and muscular, resembling the 
blacksmith he had been in his youth. He dressed well, probably had a flat, 
high-pitched voice, and wore hats whenever possible to conceal his bald- 
ness and prevent head colds; his photographs radiate confidence. 

Heber was equally strict about propriety and corrected his family if 
he felt they needed it. The Sabbath was to be kept holy, for instance. His 
children were not allowed off the property, beyond the stone walls, and 
decades later one of his sons admitted, "And 1 hate rock walls yet!" 10 
Heber was distressed one Sabbath when he discovered a wife ironing. On 
another day several wives got a lecture on prudence and economy when he 
found some good bread thrown in the swill pail and scum on the home- 
made beer. A child wearing his hat in the house bothered him. "If chil- 
dren," he said, "are allowed bad manners at home they will practice them 
the same abroad and besides we always judge the character of the parents 
by the manners of the child." n 

Sometimes his admonitions were blunt and personal. He chided Mary 
Ellen Harris about letting her mind wander "Mary Ellen you are a singular 
woman. Although a good woman, you talk too much. You are like your 
mother in this respect, and she is a good woman too. ... I say this for 
your good, for my feelings are tender towards you and you have many 
good qualities which are worthy of imitation. You are peaceable, kind 
hearted, industrious, and cheerful, but you must cultivate your mind that 
you may improve or you will get in dotage." Mary Ellen was then about 
forty, childless, and a tutor of many of his smaller children. On another 
occasion he wrote to Ann and Amanda Gheen, Lucy Walker, and Sarah 
Ann Whitney, "Now what 1 have riten fore the benifet of all, for you to 
lock upon when I am not with you fore when I am with you and talk it 
goes in one ear and out the other. . . ." 12 

After morning prayer and during the evenings he freely gave advice 
and counsel on spiritual and practical matters, settled problems, answered 
questions, heard his smaller children's lessons, or discussed current topics. 
The family were not great readers, early Great Basin culture being more 


practical than bookish. After Heber's death only thirty-one books and a 
few copies of the Book of Mormon were listed on the inventory of his 
property (and unfortunately the book titles were not given). All kinds of 
topics were discussed, however, from Joseph Smith's revelations to the lay- 
ing of the trans-Atlantic cable, from the nature of the spirit world to the 
Civil War, mail and telegraphic service, the Pony Express, the prices of 
goods, fights, shootings, murders, buying mules, army deserters going to 
California, sleigh rides, the unheated Tabernacle, building a barn, the 
spectacular Donati's Comet of 1858, and an i860 eclipse. 

He told his family of a special cane he had, one made from a plank of 
the rough oak boxes in which the bodies of Joseph Smith and his brother 
Hyrum were transported from Carthage to Nauvoo. Brigham Young and 
other church leaders also had similar canes. He prized his very highly, 
and said that when he was done with it he would hand it on to his heirs 
and that the day would come "when there will be multitudes who will 
be healed and blessed through the instrumentality of those canes in con- 
sequence of their faith and confidence in the virtues connected with 
them. . . ." 13 There are at least two traditions in the Kimball family re- 
garding the subsequent history of Heber's cane: the descendants of one 
son, Abraham Alonzo, claim to have it; so do the heirs of another, David 
Patton. 14 

Heber also told of an unusual rod he had received from Joseph Smith. 
En route to his first mission to England in 1837, he had dreamed "that the 
Prophet Joseph came to me while I was standing upon the forecastle of the 
ship, and said, "Brother Heber, here is a rod (putting it into my hands), 
with which you are to guide the ship. While you hold this rod you shall 
prosper, and there shall be no obstacles thrown before you but what 
you shall have power to overcome, and the hand of God shall be with 
you. . . ." This rod which Joseph gave me was about three and a half feet 
in length. "'* 

Later Joseph did give him and Brigham Young real rods, because 
"they were the only ones of the original twelve who had not lifted up their 
hearts against the Prophet." 16 When Heber wanted to find out anything 
that was his right to know, "all he had to do was to kneel down with the 
rod in his hand, and . . . sometimes the Lord would answer his questions 
before he had time to ask them." r At least twice in Nauvoo, for example, 
he had used this special rod. In September, 1844, he "went home and used 
the rod" to find out if Willard Richards would recover from an illness and 
if the church would overcome its enemies. In January, 1845, he inquired of 
the Lord "by the rod" whether the Nauvoo temple would be finished and 
if his sins were forgiven. All the answers were affirmative.'* Unlike the 

Kimball at Home 2.49 

cane, there are no family traditions regarding this unusual rod; it has com- 
pletely disappeared. Perhaps it was an aid to guidance and revelation. 
There is no evidence that it was a divining stick or "water witch," popular 
at that time. 19 

Heber never flagged in giving his family and the church practical ad- 
vice. Nothing was too small for his notice. He was inclined to think that 
pork and fine flour were not good for the health, for instance. He admon- 
ished his family and others on everything from the use of asafetida bags to 
ward off illness to the saving of grain and the development of home indus- 
try. Not even fashion and tact escaped his notice and censure. One day he 
let loose: 

I am opposed to your nasty fashions and everything you wear for the 
sake of fashion. Did you ever see me with hermaphrodite pantaloons 
[trousers with flys] on? Our boys are weakening their backs and their 
kidneys by girting themselves up as they do; they are destroying the 
strength of their loins and taking a course to injure their posterity. . . . 
You may take all such dresses and new fashions, and inquire into 
their origin, and you will find, as a general thing, they are produced 
by the whores of the great cities of the world. . . . There is a new fash- 
ion that our boys have got hold of, and Spanish bits and bridles, and 
then with their hermaphrodite pantaloons they look ridiculous. I will 
speak of my own boys, for they are like the rest. . . . 20 

In a less irritated manner he once wrote a friend, "The sisters of our 
city are commencing to bring about a reformation in regard to dress, to 
carry their dresses on their shoulders, instead of their hips, and they re- 
duce the quantity from 10 and 15 yards to 6 and 7, and dispense with 
girting; it makes a wonderful stir with the ladies, and is a great relief in 
expense to the brethren." 21 This was the "Deseret Costume" introduced in 
1855, but of very brief popularity. 

There are many short notices about the continual round of births, 
blessings, deaths, sicknesses, and marriages. One wife recorded some of 
Heber's casual table chitchat about the third marriage of his eldest son in 
1857. From this specific marriage perhaps we can generalize about other 
plural marriage ceremonies. During the ritual Heber placed the hand of 
the third wife (Lucy Pack) into the hand of the second wife (Martha 
Vance), who placed it in the hand of the first wife (Mary Davenport), who 
finally gave Lucy to William. By so doing Heber hoped to "stop the 
mouths" of the first two wives so that William could "keep what he has 
received in peace." He also said he had taken three grafts from the three 
families, the Davenports, Vances, and Packs, and grafted them onto his 


"first young tree," William, and as with trees, only time would tell which 
branches would develop the best fruit. 22 

Heber seems to have been very careful to take his core group of wives 
out in turn. He took "two to a wedding," for example, "several" out rid- 
ing, visited with "various" wives, and took "seven wives and a daughter" 
to a party. In 1861 Brigham Young had a party to which his formal invita- 
tion to Heber generously and diplomatically read, "Invite as many of your 
wives as you please." Once, at such a party, he was in a droll mood and 
told a woman who he knew was against polygamy that he would intro- 
duce her to his wife. He then presented her to "five or six ladies of various 
ages, one after the other, and said: 'There now, I think I'll quit now, I'm 
afraid you're not too strong in the faith.' " 23 

Such simple acts as being taken out to a party, wedding, dinner, or 
anywhere publicly were of great importance to plural wives. Their legal 
and social position was thereby reaffirmed and acknowledged. One wife 
wrote, "This may be done in many ways, sometimes by small acts of kind- 
ness at home; and again by taking you out from home and showing others 
that you are indeed a lawful wife and companion." 24 

Other kinds of fun were not wanting in the Kimball home. There were 
parties, picnics, carriage rides, family outings up the canyons, to the lake, 
and to Antelope Island, 25 and holidays — especially the Glorious Fourth 
and Christmas. One Christmas morning forty-two children and grand- 
children showed up for presents. 

Sometimes the boys devised fun of their own. "We had a brother," 
Heber's most famous offspring later wrote, "who was somewhat of a gen- 
eral, and he trained us boys — that is, when Father was away. He would get 
us behind the barn, where no one could see us; then he would put a chip 
on one of our shoulders and tell one of the other boys to knock it off. Then 
we would fight. That was part of the training he gave us, and when we 
asked why he did it, he said, it makes you tough.'" 26 The same source 
admitted to stealing fruit. "My father had a great garden, and it was 
fenced in by a six or eight foot stone wall. He told us we couldn't have any 
of the fruit; but we got it anyhow, and 1 will tell you how we got it. This 
same brother of ours took one of the boys and dangled him over the wall 
with a rope, and he loaded his shirt bosom and pockets with apples. One 
time, Father Tucker, the gardner, got after him with a willow and lam- 
basted him. Brother said that would make him tough." 27 

Heber was also greatly concerned about education and regretted 
deeply he had not been able to do better for his older children. "I should 
have educated my children," he lamented in 1854, "but 1 have been poor 

Kimball at Home 251 

and penniless. Instead of helping my children who have now come to ma- 
turity they have been required to help me obtain an honest subsistence. 
This would not have been the case could I have retained my possessions: 
but no sooner had I accumulated a little property than it was taken from 
me by legalized mobs, and neither me nor my brethren could obtain re- 
dress." 28 

To provide a better education for his younger progeny he first turned 
one of his rooms in the fort into a schoolroom and subsequently built 
three private elementary schoolhouses on his block in 1849, 1854, and 
i860. All the children in his neighborhood were invited to attend free. But 
even then some of his younger children did not take advantage of what he 
offered. On the wild and woolly frontier, much to his disappointment, his 
children did not always appreciate education; they preferred going off to 

What his sons may have lacked in formal education they partially 
made up for in frontier skills, however. They could use a whip, ax, or hoe 
to perfection, ride bareback like Indians, and handle their bowie knives 
and revolvers well. And by 1864 things were improving. Twenty-five of his 
children were then in "brother Doremus' school" and "brother Tripp's 
school." Heber's children were a striking contrast to the physical degener- 
acy and wretchedness which non-Mormons believed would follow a prac- 
tice as pernicious as polygamy. 

Heber was also proud of his sons' missionary service. Between 1849 
and 1867 he sent eight sons on missions (five of his own — William, David, 
Brigham, Charles, and Isaac — and three adopted sons — Daniel Davis, Pe- 
ter Hansen, and John Forsgren) to England, Denmark, and Sweden. After 
his death other sons, including Abraham, Jonathan Golden, Hyrum, Elias, 
and Andrew, also went on missions. 

There are extant forty-four letters between these missionaries and 
their parents for the period 1854—66 which reveal some interesting facts 
about Heber as a father. With one exception the personal parts of the let- 
ters are disappointingly routine. The exception concerns the death of a 
grandchild, who had accidentally smothered in an undetected smoldering 
fire. Heber wrote the father, Charles: 

A more kind mother, or a woman more attentive to a child never lived 
than Alvira [Charles's wife]. Her whole time was devoted to the inter- 
est and safety of that child that we could scarcely prevail on her to go 
to a party or to a theatre, to leave it for a few hours. Mother Free 
[Charles's mother-in-law] herself and a little girl were sitting in the 


house when this was done: thus you can see the design of the de- 
stroyer to grab at a thing and destroy it like a thief in the night, that 
comes when you least expect him. 

He tried to share Charles's grief by adding: 

Your poor Father has buried 19 lovely children, even as that was, and 
5 grandchildren, which all have felt of my heart strings and caused 
them to bleed; still this is a different death to what any of those died. I 
have no idea that the child ever suffered one particle of pain, or knew 
the cause until the spirit was separated from the body. . . . When 
those children come forth in the morning of the resurrection, we shall 
have much more joy in receiving them there, than we did in receiving 
of them here in the flesh. . . . 

Now Charles don't mourn, don't lay it to heart, but be comforted; 
be faithful on your mission; your little one is saved, therefore save 
others if you can, and if you are so happy to save Charles [that is, 
yourself], what great joy you will have in the Kingdom of God. . . . 29 

Heber wrote often of his great pride in his sons' work and faithfulness 
and instructed them to honor their Priesthood, magnify their membership 
and calling, be humble, prayerful, kind, affectionate, and merciful, keep 
His commandments, and listen to His voice. 30 In 1863 he wrote eloquently: 

David and Charles, hear your father, for he speaketh unto you and 
to all whom it may concern; leave your families at home, and there let 
them remain, nor let your spirits reach after them when your poor 
bodies are in England; commit them unto the care of the Almighty 
and he will preserve them with your little ones. God says, "Draw near 
unto me and I will listen to your cries." Be humble, be meek, and not 
one hair of your heads shall fall to the ground unnoticed. 1 had no 
father or mother in the flesh to say this to my wife and little ones. 
Remember all these things, bear them in mind, seek to learn wisdom 
and get experience. 

My earnest prayer to God, in the name of his Son, is, to help my 
sons to honor the holy priesthood of the Son of God, which is of more 
value than all the world besides. I have seen sorrow, I have mourned, I 
have lamented, when I have seen Elders return from their missions 
having dishonored their calling and their Priesthood. 31 

He was particularly insistent that they should be simple and direct in 
their teaching of the people: "Learn to be very simple in your teachings," 
he advised, "for the people are very ignorant they are like children. Don't 
learn to be artificial preachers; live near to God, and let the Holy Ghost 
tell you what to say. You know your father is sometimes complained of 

Kimball at Home 253 

because of his simplicity and plainness. ... I said but little, but what I did 
say went to the hearts of the honest. " u He directed them to "preach short 
sermons. Be sure that they are dictated by the spirit and power of the Holy 
Ghost; its like giving salt to sheep; if you give them all they want, they 
become cloyed, then they are not for the shepherd. Give just enough so 
they will be craving for more; then they will follow the shepherd and cry 
for more," 33 

In 1865 he voiced a sentiment of many Mormon fathers: 

My heart yearns with desire to write to you because you are ever be- 
fore me, and my desires and prayers for your welfare and prosperity 
are unceasing. . . . Do not think, however, because I thus write that 1 
long for you to return. No, I wish you to stay and accomplish a good 
mission for it is a lengthy journey to the island of Britain. You are 
obtaining an experience which will be of more worth to you than all 
you have learned at home since you were born, and if you are humble 
God will make you mighty to the accomplishment of his purposes 
in the earth, and you will attain to every desire of your hearts in 
righteousness. 34 

Regarding polygamy he warned, "I never was sent forth to preach to 
the world the plurality of wives . . . nor to have anything to do with them 
in any way, but to treat them with respect." J5 Let the mysteries alone," he 
added, "the doctrine of plurality does not belong to the world; that be- 
longs at home, in the sheep-fold, and no where else. This is the only place 
to court wives, where you can get them according to the order, with the 
consent of him that holds the keys." 36 

He had reason to be concerned. One adopted son (Peter Hansen) not 
only acquired a wife and a son on his first mission to Denmark in 1852, 
but even considered taking a second wife after his first wife immigrated to 
Utah.'" Another son wrote how plentiful women were in England. Heber 
cautioned all missionaries, "Deseret is the bee hive and the place to get 
bees," he said. "Through the agency of women more of the Elders are de- 
stroyed than any other influence." "Keep hands off, and lips off, and be 
sure and not kiss but where you have a right to and if any woman wants 
kissing let her husband kiss her if she has got one, if not, let her splice out 
her patience until she gets one."™ He warned, "Don't grace yourselves in 
the eyes of women; don't let the women touch your arms, let them walk by 
themselves if they want to walk with you." * v Once, to make a point in his 
rough manner, he warned the missionaries, "You will get love sick so that 
you will puke. Take lobelia . . . and puke it all out." 40 

Through these same sons Heber and Vilate tried to keep alive their 
contacts with their respective families back in New York. Whenever possi- 


ble Heber had his sons look up their relatives while going to and from 
their missions. In 1854 William, for example, stopped over in Mendon. "I 
found everything just as I expected," he reported. "Fathers house and barn 
and the hul plase was not altered any. Elder Weavers and J. Rodgers and 
the school house and Tomblinsons Plase and all was just as I left them 21 
years ago." 41 

Heber remained on good terms with his brother Solomon, but his 
sisters Melvina, Eliza, and Abigail apparently disowned him when they 
learned of polygamy. Vilate and her brother Roswell also remained close. 
Roswell was a former Presbyterian minister who, although dissatisfied 
with standard Christianity, could not bring himself to join the Mormons. 
His letters to Vilate reveal his deep and enduring love for his baby sister, 
his equally deep resistance to all their overtures that he join her faith, and 
his mortification at her "association with a people so despised as the 
Mormons." 42 

There were occasional visitors in the Kimball home. In 1858 Colonel 
Thomas L. Kane, in Utah as part of the Utah War peace mission, called on 
Heber. He was impressed by his host's grand piano and played it. That 
same year Colonel Carlos A. Weight of the Fifth U.S. Infantry, "an old 
school fellow and playmate," also called. The following year an old Men- 
don friend, Ethan Allen, stayed three days with the family. He claimed to 
be a descendant of the revolutionary hero by the same name. 

When Heber wished to impress a visitor, he first showed him his own 
ten-acre estate and then walked the guest up today's Capitol Hill, just 
north of his property, which afforded an unexcelled view of the city and 
Valley. There artists and photographers came to record the Mormon 
Mecca, which in i860 had a population of more than 8,200, and from 
there Heber could survey the growth of the headquarters of the Kingdom 
of God. Kane, Weight, Allen, and others would have seen a checkerboard 
of ten-acre blocks spreading out to the east, south, and west. The blocks 
were divided into eight lots of one and a quarter acres each; the houses, 
mainly simple one-storied adobe structures, were centered on each lot, set 
back twenty-feet, and positioned so that no two faced each other. This was 
done for uniformity, to maximize privacy, and to minimize the spreading 
of fires. The blocks were separated by twenty-foot-wide sidewalks and 
132-foot-wide streets. Visitors would have seen parks, gardens, fields, 
farms, cattle, chapels, schools, and business houses of all kinds — the 
Crossroads of the West, an oasis between the mountains and the desert. 

Walking the one and a half blocks south from the Kimball home to 
the principal intersection of Main and Brigham (now South Temple) 

Kimball at Home 255 

streets and turning east on Brigham Street, the visitor would have passed 
on the left a complex of church buildings — the General Tithing Office, 
Bishop's Storehouse, Deseret Store, Deseret Museum, mint, and Deseret 
News building. Next was Brigham Young's estate and his main residences. 
The Lion House, where most of his wives lived, was so designated from a 
stone lion couchant over the entrance. Visitors usually counted the num- 
ber of dormer windows (there are twenty) to try to determine the number 
of Young's wives in the same more or less humorous manner that twen- 
tieth-century visitors to Salt Lake City sometimes asked if the enormous 
Heinz 57 sign on a mountainside represented the number of his wives. 
Next came the Bee Hive House (crowned by a beehive, Utah's symbol of 
industry), the governor's office, and the Eagle Gate leading into Young's 
private farm. On the right was the Church Historian's Office. 

Turning south on State Street, the Social Hall was to the left and the 
Seventies' Hall of Science on the right. On the northwest corner of State 
and First South streets stood the famous Salt Lake City Theatre, modeled 
after London's Drury Lane Theatre. Diagonally across the street was the 
new City Hall. Proceeding west on First South the visitor would have re- 
turned to Main Street, which was lined with small businesses — general 
stores, bakeries, saloons, clothing stores, pharmacies, restaurants, pho- 
tographers' shops, a Masonic hall, and the territory's best hostelry, the Salt 
Lake House, where dignitaries stayed. One block north, on the southwest 
corner of Main and Brigham, stood the two-storied red sandstone Council 
House, the first permanent public structure in the region, which also 
housed the territorial library. 

Across the street was Temple Square — the outdoor sanctum sancto- 
rum of the Great Basin, a ten-acre block bounded by Main, Brigham, West 
Temple, and North Temple streets, eater-cornered from Heber's inheri- 
tance. Here were to be seen the Endowment House, a proto-temple until 
real temples could be built, and the first Tabernacle, which served for all 
general church meetings until the famous Tabernacle of today was com- 
pleted in 1867. At the time of this hypothetical tour, all that would have 
been visible of the new Tabernacle w r ould have been the huge 250-by-i 50- 
foot oval foundation and most of the forty-six piers to support the dome. 

Finally, the visitor would have stopped to admire the mighty substruc- 
ture of the great Salt Lake temple, which measured 171 by 92 feet. Begun 
in 1853, the temple was of a gray granite from the mouth of little Cotton- 
wood Canyon. Built to withstand earthquakes, and to stand during the 
Millennium, the footings are sixteen feet wide and eight feet deep, the 
basement walls are eight feet thick, and the upper story walls when fin- 
ished were six feet thick. Inverted arches are constructed in the foundation 


to distribute the enormous pressure of the great walls. Some of the stones 
weigh over three tons. When finished in 1893, the walls rose 107 feet and 
the towers were up to 210 feet high. 

Forty years under construction, the temple's massiveness was and is 
not only uniquely and marvelously expressive of the Heroic Will of the 
early church and the Great Basin's Community of Obedience, it is also a 
nineteenth-century example of the monumental, God-directed architec- 
ture of antiquity, the high Middle Ages, and the Baroque era. The rest of 
Salt Lake City was (and mid-twentieth-century temples have been) scaled 
more to the humanistic proportions of man in this world. 


1. H. C. Kimball to Ann, Lucy, Amanda, and Sarah Ann, Dec. 31, 1855. 
Original in possession of Mrs. Kenneth Huffman. Used by permission. Laura 
Pitkin Kimball Journal, Jan. 12, 1859, Church Archives. 

2. Sarah M. Kimball to Brigham Kimball, Feb. 17, 1867. Original in posses- 
sion of Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission, 

3. Ernest Falbo, ed., California and Overland Diaries of Count Leonetto 
Cipriani: From 1853 through i8yi (Portland, Ore.: Champeog Press, 1962), 112. 

4. Mary Ellen Kimball Journal, Feb. 15, 1857, Church Archives. 

5. Public Miscellaneous Minutes, May 10 and 12, 1855, Church Archives. 

6. Wilford Woodruff Journal, Dec. 16, 1866, Church Archives. 

7. Historian's Office Journal, Jan. 31, 1868, Church Archives. 

8. Laura Pitkin Kimball Journal, Apr. 2-May 27, i860, Church Archives. 

9. The English did not appreciate the Thompsonian method. There is evi- 
dence that Richards got into serious trouble in London. A London newspaper re- 
ported that he "was taken up for murder, that he had given a woman some cayenne 
and ginger and she lived two weeks after it." H. C. Kimball to "Dear Brethren," 
Mar. 12, 1839. Original in possession of J. Leroy Kimball. Used by permission. 

10. Richards,/. Golden Kimball, 294. 

11. Mary Ellen Kimball Journal, Oct. 24, 1858, Church Archives. 

12. Ibid., Aug. 22, 1858. H. C. Kimball to Ann, Lucy, Amanda, and Sarah 
Ann, Dec. 31, 1855. Original in possession of Mrs. Kenneth Huffman. Used by 

13. Journal of Discourses, vol. 4 (Mar. 15, 1857), 294. He went on to add, 
"In England when not in a situation to go, I have blessed my handkerchief and 
asked God to sanctify it and fill it with life and power, and sent it to the sick; and 
hundreds have been healed by it; in like manner I have sent my cane. . . ." 

14. The respective assertions are as follows. In 1882 Abraham Alonzo re- 
corded in his journal, "I had been quite satisfied for a number of years that I was 
the proper one to act for my Father from a promise made concerning a cane, which 

Kimball at Home 257 

1 have in my possession, made from one of the boards of the boxes that the Proph- 
ets Joseph and Hyrum were brought from Carthage in, according to the statement 
made by Heber C. Kimball. . . ." (A. A. Kimball Journal, March 18, i88z, in au- 
thor's possession.) In O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 466, we read, "This 
cane is now (1888) in the possession of Bishop Abram A. Kimball who testifies 
that healing virtues attach to it." 

The cane apparently went from Abraham Alonzo to his son Abraham Alon- 
zo, Jr., and both the son and grandson of Abraham Alonzo, Jr., have at different 
times assured the author that they were still in possession of it. A second claim to 
possession was made at a Kimball family meeting held June 14, 1 945, in Salt Lake 
City. Three descendants of David Patton Kimball stated that the cane went from 
Heber to his son David Patton, then to David Patton's son Heber Chase Kimball. At 
this meeting Heber Chase Kimball himself addressed the gathering and said the 
following: "Since I was eight years old I have had in my possession the cane. I 
received it shortly after my baptism into the church. On the handle of the cane is 
engraved the name of Heber C. Kimball. It has all the virtues and power which 
have been referred to and it yet will be the means of blessing and healing thousands 
as it is recorded in the history of my Grandfather Kimball which was written by his 
grandson, Orson F. Whitney . . ." ("Minutes of a Meeting Honoring Heber C. 
Kimball and Thomas S. Williams, June 14, 1945/' 6-9, copy in Utah State Histor- 
ical Society, Salt Lake City.) 

This is the only source the author has found regarding this cane in the David 
Patton Kimball family. We may never know which cane, if either, is the original. 
Heber may very well have had several canes or walking sticks, as they were popu- 
lar in his day. These particular canes were made of oak, and some, but not the one 
in the A. A. Kimball family, have little windows in the head of the cane behind 
which are hairs from the Prophet's head. 

15. O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 115. 

16. "Sacred History," typescript, 1, Solomon F. Kimball Papers, Church Ar- 
chives. It is sometimes claimed that Apostle David W. Patten never "lifted up his 
heart against the prophet." During July, 1837, however, he insulted Joseph, who 
"kicked him out of the yard." He was later forgiven. Wilford Woodruff Diary, June 
2.5, 1857, Church Archives. I would like to thank Ronald K. Esplin for drawing 
this to my attention. 

17. "Sacred History," typescript, 1, Solomon F. Kimball Papers, Church 

18. H. C. Kimball, Journal 92, Sept. 5, 1844, Church Archives; ibid., Jan. 
25, 1845; letter, July 25, 1843 (incorrectly dated 1842), H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

19. It is possible that these rods may have been in some way connected with 
a rod possessed by Oliver Cowdery. "You have another gift, which is the gift of 
working with the rod: behold it has told you things: behold there is no power save 
God, that can cause this rod of nature, to work in yours hands . . . whatsoever you 
shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant you, that you shall know." 


Book of Command we tits (Zion [Independence, Mo.]: W. W. Phelps, 1833), Sec- 
tion 7. 

20. Journal of Discourses , vol. 6 (Dec. 27, 1857), 191. 

21. "H. C. Kimball Discourse, March 23, 1853," H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

22. Mary Ellen Kimball Journal, Feb. 8, 1857, Church Archives. 

23. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 384. 

24. "A Sketch Pioneer History," 35, Mary Ellen Kimball Papers, Church 

25. In 1857 this island was the scene of a romantic incident involving 
Heber's son David Patton and his bride, Caroline Williams. Caroline was the six- 
teen-year-old daughter of a wealthy merchant, Thomas S. Williams, who had been 
excommunicated in 1856 and was then preparing to return east. The father was 
thoroughly against the marriage and had his daughter guarded night and day. On 
April 13, however, she escaped, married David quickly and secretly, and they fled 
to Antelope Island. Williams was enraged and, blaming Heber, threatened to kill 
him; he was finally arrested for disturbing the peace. The newlyweds did not dare 
to return until Williams left for the east. 

26. Richards,/. Golden Kimball, 18. 

27. Ibid., 18-19. 

28. Journal of Discourses, vol. 3 (Mar. 19, 1854), 106. 

29. H. C. Kimball to Charles Kimball, Feb. 21, 1864, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

30. H. C. Kimball to William Kimball, June 29, 1854, Millennial Star, vol. 
16 (Oct. 7, 1854), 634. 

31. H. C. Kimball to David and Charles Kimball, July 27, 1863, ibid., vol. 

25 (Oct. 17, 1863), 667. 

32. H. C. Kimball to David and Charles Kimball, Nov. 11, 1863, ibid., vol. 

26 (Feb. 6, 1864), 91. 

33. H. C. Kimball to Brigham and Isaac Kimball, Dec. 7, 1866, ibid., vol. 29 
(Jan. 26, 1867), 59. 

34. H. C. Kimball to David, Charles, and Brigham Kimball, July 17, 1865, 
H. C. Kimball Papers, Church Archives. 

35. H. C. Kimball to David and Charles Kimball, July 27, 1863, Millennial 
Star, vol. 25 (Oct. 17, 1863), 669. 

36. H. C. Kimball to David and Charles Kimball, Nov. 10, 1863, ibid., vol. 
26 (Feb. 6, 1864), 91. 

37. Heber's displeasure over this is reflected in a remark Peter wrote to his 
adopted brother William, "I have never as yet been honored with a line from your 
honorable Father or any of his good family. . . ." Peter Kimball to William Kim- 
ball, June 20, 1854. Original in possession of Spencer W. Kimball. Used by 

When Peter returned he brought his wife and child and began working for 
Heber on Antelope Island. During Oct., 1855, he wrote Heber, "Now I am going 

Kimball at Home 259 

to ask you for one thing, which is wanting in my being fully satisfied, and that is to 
let me have the woman which I fetched with me, for I know she is innocent and her 
real desire is to be with us ... I know she will behave well towards Ann, and I 
think Ann would treat her well. . . ." Peter Kimball to H. C. Kimball, Oct., 1855. 
Original in possession of Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission. 

William also seemed to think taking a wife while he was a missionary was all 
right. "I hope Daniel [Davis] will come to this country," he wrote his father from 
England in 1855, "it will do him good and I think he will get a wife as women are 
so plentiful. . . ." William Kimball to H. C. Kimball, June 28, 1855. Original in 
possession of Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission. 

38. Historian's Office Journal, Apr. 9, 1862, Church Archives. 

39. Public Miscellaneous Minutes, May 1, 1865, Church Archives. 

40. General Minutes, Apr. 22, 1864, Church Archives. 

41. William Kimball to H. C. Kimball, written on board the Canada, May 
25, 1854. Original in possession of Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission. 

42. Roswell G. Murray to Vilate Kimball, Mar. 23 and Apr. 4, 1855, and 
William H. Kimball to his parents, Oct. 4, 1855. Originals in possession of 
Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission. H. M. Whitney, Woman's Exponent, vol. 
8 (Aug. 15, 1880), 42. Laura Murray to Vilate Kimball, June 23, 1858. Original in 
possession of Spencer W. Kimball. Used by permission. 


Reluctant Diplomat 

The Utah War ended ten years of isolation, and the army of occupation 
forecast the growing number of Gentiles who would follow. When the 
Saints trudged back to Salt Lake City in 1858 it was some time before life 
resumed its normal course. The Tabernacle was closed, no public meetings 
were held, and the members of the First Presidency retired and were sel- 
dom seen. Heber and others routinely provided an armed escort for Presi- 
dent Young when it was necessary for him to appear in public. Eventually, 
however, the people took up their usual activities where they had left off. 

With the entrance of Governor Alfred Cumming into Utah, the 
church was put in a position where, for the rest of Heber's life and beyond, 
it had to learn to accommodate, if not to make compromises with, a 
federal regime and an increasing number of non-Mormons in the territory. 
Up to that time Heber's vigorous personality, total integrity, raw courage, 
and indomitable faith had been invaluable in spreading the Restoration, 
building the Kingdom, helping the church resettle several times, and steel- 
ing the Saints against all kinds of opposition. The new era called for tal- 
ents which Heber did not have: tact and diplomacy. To his death he con- 
tinued to strengthen the Kingdom and to fight the various economic and 
religious challenges and political and judicial crusades in his rugged man- 
ner — a manner which grew increasingly anachronistic and ineffective. 

The new governor, administering what might be called Utah's Recon- 
struction, tried to be just and do his job well. He was largely successful, 
even though some in Washington favored a punitive program. He got 
along well with the people and their elected legislators, gave peace, se- 
curity, and order to the community, and administered justice fairly. He had 
little control, however, over the soldiers — isolated troops with little to do. 
Heber knew exactly what to expect from the Camp Floyd area. Trouble- 
some troops had been in the Valley before. In 1854 President Franklin 
Pierce had ordered Lieutenant Colonel E. J. Steptoe to lead about 300 men 


Reluctant Diplomat z6i 

to Utah — 175 soldiers and 130 civilian teamsters, herders, and bureau- 
crats. Ostensibly Steptoe was to capture the Indian murderers of Lieuten- 
ant John W. Gunnison and seven other members of the U.S. Topographical 
Survey, who had been slain while surveying for possible routes for the pro- 
posed Central Pacific Railroad in 1853. His sealed orders, however, were 
to oust Young as governor of the territory. But after an investigation Step- 
toe refused to replace Young, and the troops left during the summer of 

A disgusted Heber later wrote to his eldest son, on a mission in En- 
gland, that the troops had been playing "with some of the skitty-wits, alias 
whores," that there had been trouble over women, and that some "of our 
silly women" returned east with the army. The civilians with the army 
were not much better. "Holman, the States Attorney," he wrote, "when he 
went to Salt Creek, he in company with Coffman one of Kinney's clerks, 
stabled a squaw and caught the clap. They were under the doctor's care for 
several weeks in this city." l 

The troops at Camp Floyd were worse. Sometimes the soldiers bought 
the Indian women's favors with coats, caps, pants, or money; sometimes 
they got the braves drunk and took their women or simply drove the men 
away with bayonets. In time the braves became so demoralized they 
started procuring for their own wives. Nor were white women considered 
off limits to officers. One bragged that he was "going to make the attempt" 
on one of Young's daughters-in-law whose husband was away. 2 Another 
insisted on and claimed the right to sleep with a Salt Lake City married 
woman. 3 In general the army did not consider plural wives as legal wives 
and therefore assumed them to be approachable. 

The army also beat up a few Mormons, occupied Provo for a while, 
and even conspired to arrest Young. In general, the troops augmented, if 
they did not introduce, drunkenness, prostitution, and rioting. Far worse 
than the troops at Camp Floyd (over whom there was some military disci- 
pline), however, were the camp followers — gamblers, procurers, prosti- 
tutes, and their like — holed up at Fairfield, or Frogtown as it was sometimes 
called. The entire Camp Floyd period to 1861 was a time of demoralization. 

Heber believed the army would create more apostates than there had 
been since the difficult days at Kirtland. He was, characteristically and re- 
alistically, concerned over the women and advised them to carry weapons 
to defend their honor. Through i860 he excoriated the troops and some 
territorial officers in his sermons. They stood "ready to debauch and de- 
stroy this people," he said. The army was a "curse," it "contaminated" the 
Saints. The soldiers were "enemies, sharks, sawfish. ... A more wicked 
set of scoundrels never lived than we have got here!" "Have we not be- 


come highly civilized," he sarcastically asked; "there never were such 
things known in these valleys until the army came. I never knew of such 
drunkenness, whoring, or murder, until then. . . . Every little while there 
is somebody shot." 4 

The army did not take such criticism lightly. One of their number, 
Kirk Anderson, started a newspaper, the Valley Tan. From November, 
1858, through February, i860, Anderson championed the non-Mormons 
in the territory, opposed polygamy, and attacked the "wrongful" domina- 
tion of Utah by the Mormon Church. To "reflect back the pecularities of 
Mormonism," to "show the pitiable condition of the Mormon people, the 
disloyalty they are taught, and the tyranny that grinds them in the dust," 
the Valley Tan often quoted from Heber's outspoken public sermons. 

Since Utah was technically under occupation, some of Heber's friends 
tried to persuade him to be less abrasive. Some of the brethren, he said, 
"think that I had better not say anything about the United States." Once, 
when cautioned to hold his tongue, he responded characteristically, "I 
shall when I get ready." At another time he said, "There are some people 
that think I am very hard . . , but I can tell you that I am not as severe as I 
ought to be." 5 

In a public meeting at which Heber was present, Brigham Young's son 
Joseph admonished the poeple not to use "low vulgar or obscene expres- 
sions," and Albert Carrington, editor of the Deseret Netvs, "made a few 
remarks on the same strain. . . ." 6 Since Heber had long been criticized by 
the Gentiles for his coarseness, it is likely that he deeply resented these sen- 
timents expressed publicly and considered them to be aimed directly at 
him. He did, however, change his platform manner. He gave fewer talks, 
and those he did give were often mild, short, bland, hortatory, full of scrip- 
tural quotations (which he had hardly ever used before), and contained 
little of his habitual spice and ginger. 

Heber then turned to another of his favorite topics — economic devel- 
opment. If, for whatever reason, he could not or would not continue to 
criticize the Gentiles, he could at least minimize their economic power 
over the Saints. After 1858 he added the related theme of economic inde- 
pendence. For example, he endlessly cautioned the Saints not to sell grain 
to the army even if the army did pay high prices. The people should store it 
up against the future. 

He urged the people not to patronize Gentile merchants, to be content 
with homemade clothes, to be diligent in cultivating the earth, to be either 
independent of imports or to do their own importing. He hated "little 
bonnets, for they are a cursed disgrace to the Saints" — meaning they had 

Reluctant Diplomat 2.63 

to be imported. If the Saints had to have certain things they should make 
them themselves. "Why don't you raise sheep," he asked, "and make your 
own dresses instead of putting on those rotten [imported] rags?" 7 

At the outbreak of the Civil War in April, 1861, the troops were with- 
drawn from Camp Floyd, the Valley Tan ceased publication, and Gover- 
nor Cumming retired to his native Georgia. The Mormons were not only 
glad to get rid of the troops, but they gained economically, for part of 
what the army did not transport back to Fort Leavenworth was auctioned 
off, 8 enabling the Mormons to acquire four million dollars worth of mate- 
rials for approximately Si 00,000. In a way this fulfilled Heber's prophecy 
that the United States would have to pay for the cost of the 1857 "move 
South" and for the mistreatment of the church in general. 

Although Utah was far removed from the scenes of combat, the Civil 
War greatly affected the Mormons, for they held the key position on the 
overland route, the vital link in uniting the North with the West. The First 
Presidency faced a trilemma; support the Union, support the South, or try 
to remain neutral or indifferent. Had the church supported the South, they 
might have expected the right to keep their "peculiar" institution of polyg- 
amy and to receive full statehood quickly. Moreover, the federal govern- 
ment had hardly protected the church in Missouri and Illinois and had re- 
cently sent an army against it. In fact many Mormons, including Heber, 
considered the war just punishment for the wrongs the United States had 
allowed them to suffer. Most Mormons, however, were from England or 
New England and therefore closely tied to the North. And more important 
was the strong Mormon conviction that the Constitution was divinely 
inspired. As early as April 6, 1861, Heber had declared patriotically, "We 
shall never secede from the Constitution of the United States." 9 The 
church and the territory formally declared support for the Union. 

Basic Mormon loyalty to the Union was further demonstrated by the 
fact that, when so many states were trying to secede from the Union, the 
Mormons were trying to get in. During the unsettled period of the war 
the church thought it would be a good opportunity to prove that Utah sup- 
ported the Constitution and the Union and a propitious time to re-petition 
for statehood. Consequently a mass meeting of January 6, 1862, in Salt 
Lake City chose delegates to a constitutional convention to make formal 
application for statehood. The sixty-seven delegates from sixteen counties 
convened on January 20. By the 23rd it had drafted a constitution, nomi- 
nated Young for governor, Kimball for lieutenant governor, and Dr. John 
M. Bernhisel (Utah's legal territorial representative and another physician 


among the Mormons) as representative to Congress from the proposed 
State of Deseret. 

A general election of March 3 both ratified the nominations and elect- 
ed members to the legislature. As in 1849 the people had no choice over 
the nominees and could only vote for or against the slate. The following 
June, Bernhisel presented the constitution and a memorial requesting ad- 
mission to the Union and to the House of Representatives. Although Kan- 
sas, West Virginia, and Nevada became states at this time, not only was the 
Mormon petition not granted, but Congress took the occasion to pass the 
Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of that same year — the first of a series of mea- 
sures against plural marriages which penalized polygamists, disincorpo- 
rated the church, and limited the amount of real estate it could hold to 
$50,000. Congressional displeasure reflected in this act had been brewing 
since the public admission of polygamy by the church in 1852. The act 
was more a nuisance than a threat, and no serious anti-polygamy action 
took place in Utah until after Heber's death, following the Edmunds Act 
of 1882. 

As in 1849, however, the Mormons paid little attention to Washing- 
ton's refusal and went right ahead with the ghost State of Deseret, which 
they kept alive until 1870. The creation of the unofficial State of Deseret 
added one more layer to Utah's government, which already had three: the 
church, the military, and the civil. Not much is known of Heber's activities 
as lieutenant governor of this fourth government. His duties probably dif- 
fered little from those as First Counselor to Young, but he never again sat 
in the territorial legislature. 

Utah's first Civil War governor and Cumming's replacement, John A. 
Dawson, held office less than a month, during December, 1861, before he 
left in disgrace for having made improper advances to a widow. Before a 
new governor could be appointed the church willingly responded in April, 
1862, when Lincoln requested a 120-man detachment of the Nauvoo 
Legion (the Utah militia) to guard the mail and telegraph service along the 
overland road in central Wyoming ("in or about Independence Rock") for 
ninety days against Indian depredations. 

At the time of this service the new governor, Stephen S. Harding, ar- 
rived in July. In spite of the guard duty, Harding was quick to criticize the 
people in general and Heber in particular. On August 3, 1862, only two 
weeks after his arrival, he reported back to Secretary of State William H. 
Seward that the people w r ere "not loyal." As evidence he said he had sat in 
the Bowery "sabbath after sabbath [he had been there only two weeks!] 
hearing their declamations." Harding then singled out a sermon by Heber 
as a prima facie example of Mormon disloyalty. "Two weeks ago tomor- 

Reluctant Diplomat 265 

row I heard Heber C. Kimball, the second president proclaiming [word 
unclear] and defiantly, that he was a prophet of the living God, and what 
he declared to be true was true, and then went on to say that 'the Govern- 
ment of the United States is dead, thank God its dead.' l It is not worth the 
head of a pin': that 'the worst had not yet happened, that the remnant of 
the Gentiles that would be destroyed by pestilance, famine, and earth- 
quake,' to which infernal sentiment the [people] around me sent up a 
hearty 'amen.'" 10 

Partly as a result of Harding's accusations, the assignment to guard 
the overland road permanently was not given to the Mormons — a deci- 
sion which greatly altered the evolution of church and Utah development. 
Washington placed Colonel (later General) Patrick Connor in charge of 
the Third California Volunteers and assigned them the task. It was ex- 
pected by all that Connor would settle at Camp Floyd. But Connor, dislik- 
ing and distrusting Mormons, insisted on building a permanent camp on 
elevated ground just three miles east of Salt Lake City, where he could 
easily control the city if necessary. Connor and his troops arrived in Octo- 
ber, 1862, and established what came to be known as Fort Douglas. The 
presence of troops permanently housed in the Valley resulted in a new 
anti-Mormon newspaper and a greater influx of Gentiles, especially mer- 
chants. It was Connor's avowed purpose to dilute the influence of the 
church in Utah. To this end he also vigorously promoted mining, hoping to 
start another "rush." Although much mining was undertaken the ore was 
not rich enough to excite many. 

Connor also established a newspaper, the Union Vedette, which he 
published from November, 1863, through November 1867. In his desire to 
"give an expose of the treasonable acts of these (so called) prophets," he 
took his cue from the Valley Tan and Governor Harding, and soon re- 
sumed the attack on Heber. Connor knew a good target when he saw one 
and he was undoubtedly familiar with Heber's reputation as a "rip snort- 
er" in the pulpit. Connor, however, had to wait a bit to find something 
to pillory Heber with, for during this period Heber seldom fulminated 
against the non-Mormons. Finally on July zo, 1864, Connor found some- 
thing to seize upon and came on strong. A sermon by Heber in the Taber- 
nacle, the Vedette announced, was the "disloyal mutterings and filthy 
antics of an old ape wearing a red bandanna over his senseless cranium," 
and it labeled "the most indelicate remarks on Polygamy unfit for publica- 
tion in any respectable paper." Five days later the Vedette, describing the 
July zi "Sabbath at the Tabernacle," reported that Heber's "whole dis- 
course was without one pure idea, and full of the most blatant disloyalty. 
In fact, it was nothing but a low coarse obscene tirade of abuse against the 


Government of the United States." To the end of the war the Vedette kept 
up its attack on the church, quoting Heber frequently. Once Heber said 
something that was for him relatively mild: "We are now living in one of 
the most eventful days that was ever known. The Lord is now withdraw- 
ing his spirit from the face of the earth. . . . The stars and stripes are said 
to be emblems of freedom and Christianity. When I read of the raids of the 
Union armies destroying millions of dollars worth of property and leaving 
women and children to starve, I say God save us from such Christianity as 
that." The Vedette picked this up and labeled it "balderdash, disgusting 
ribaldry, and filth." 11 

On another occasion when Heber denounced adultery, the Vedette^ 
noting that he was a polygamist, complained that "the hypocrisy of this 
Mormon Leader would shame a criminal upon the gallows." n When Con- 
nor could find nothing current from Heber to bewail he would quote from 
some of Heber's vigorous 1857 sermons, from the time when Utah had 
been threatened by the Utah expedition. 

Heber never bothered to answer the Gentile abuse. One of his few 
known comments regarding either the Valley Tan or the Vedette was 
rather mild. "General Connor," he said, "and also the Vedette are issuing 
their proclamations to the world, as though the mountains here are full of 
silver and gold, and that Connor and the troops are here to sustain the 
Gentiles in their rights. . . . Connor's design is to disentangle the people 
from under the bondage of the leaders of this people and to make a free 
people of them, as he says." 13 

With the end of the Civil War in April, 1865, relations between Fort 
Douglas and the church temporarily improved. As if to symbolize the new 
spirit of good feeling, Mormons and Gentiles jointly celebrated Lincoln's 
reinauguration and the Union victory at Appomattox. The two groups 
united again on April 15 in memorial services for the assassinated Presi- 
dent. Stenhouse reported that even General Connor and the Vedette ex- 
pressed a desire for the feud to end, which it did for a while, although it 
erupted later with "the same old tune." 14 


1. H. C. Kimball to William Kimball, May 20, 1855, William H. Kimball 
Papers, Church Archives. 

z. William Mulder and A. Russell Mortensen, Among the Mormons: His- 
toric Accounts by Contemporary Observers (1958; Lincoln: University of Nebras- 
ka Press, 1974), 274. 

Reluctant Diplomat 267 

3. Historian's Office Journal, Sept. 28, 1858, Church Archives. 

4. Journal of Discourses, vol. 7 (Aug. 28, 1859), 234-35. It was also at this 
time that the Saints discovered the first ghoul in their midst. After his apprehen- 
sion large piles of clothing taken from graves was discovered. Many mothers 
fainted at the sight of objects taken from their children's bodies. Lynch justice was 
harsh: the man, John Baptist, was branded, his ears were cut off, and he was exiled 
to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. Historian's Office Journal, Aug., 1862, 
Church Archives. 

5. Ibid. 

6. C. L. Walker Journal, Aug. 18, 186 1, Church Archives. 

7. Journal of Discourses, vol. 8 (July 1, i860), 111. 

8. Army of Utah Records, vol. 12, July n, 1 861, National Archives, Wash- 
ington, D.C. The army took back to Fort Leavenworth 165,000 pounds of cloth- 
ing, 35,000 pounds of ordnance stores, 1 1,483 pounds of medical supplies, and 
5,000 pounds of quartermaster stores. 

9. Journal of Discourses, vol. 9 (Apr. 6, 1861), 7. 

10. U.S. State Department, Territorial Papers, Utah 1853-73, Mi 2, roll 1, 
National Archives. 

11. Union Vedette, Jan. 27, 1865. 

12. Ibid., Feb. 1 1, 1865. 

13. H. C. Kimball to David and Charles Kimball, Feb. 21, 1864, H. C. Kim- 
ball Papers, Church Archives. 

14. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints, 61 1 — 12. 


Brigham's Outspoken Preacher 

As a church leader, Heber's main ecclesiastical assignment was to preach, 
to give advice, to exhort the Saints to good works, repentance, and obe- 
dience — to mold them into a new Chosen People. To this end he spoke 
often and deserved his reputation as a colorful and outspoken preacher. 

Although most of the nineteen wards in Salt Lake City had some kind 
of building for school and public gatherings, almost all of Heber's preach- 
ing was done in the Old Tabernacle on the southwest corner of Temple 
Square. The tabernacle seated 2,000, the largest such hall on the frontier, 
but by 1853 was too small. The Bowery, seating 8,000, was then erected 
nearby, but could only be used in good weather. Sometimes Heber also 
spoke in this place. The famous later Tabernacle was not finished until 

More than 140 of Heber's sermons or informal homilies were re- 
corded. They reveal his preaching to have been an unusual mixture of 
orthodoxy, power, and peculiarities, some of which at first seem almost 
quirky. 1 In Heber's day speculative theology was practiced in the church; 
since then Mormon theology has been pretty much standardized. He laid 
it on the line, minced no words. His job was to build and strengthen the 
Kingdom with what talents and energy he had. 

Lacking formal education, he capitalized on his natural gifts. Perhaps 
he believed that the Saints got enough standard sermonizing from his col- 
leagues and that it would be better for him just to be himself and let others 
be artful. Generally he dispensed with subtleties, knowing very well how 
unsophisticated many of his hearers were. If he thought they needed the 
message in a forthright manner that is the way they got it. He was never 
maudlin or sanctimonious. 

He was perfectly aware of his provocative oratorical style and made 
little effort to tone it down. He believed he was effective and complained 
when he was edited, when "Brother Carrington clips out words here and 


Brigham's Outspoken Preacher 269 

there." 2 Of his outspoken platform manner he freely admitted that "you 
must expect, when you see brother Heber stand before you to speak, that 
you will hear what is called the rough [h]etchel [a tool for breaking up 
flax] to this generation." He acknowledged that he was plain, definite, un- 
premeditated, eccentric, rough, disjointed, hard, and severe. He also real- 
ized that he was "sometimes considered vulgar by those who are them- 
selves vulgar." By way of explanation or apology he occasionally said, 
"Excuse me, I never use rough words, only when I come in contact with 
rough things; and 1 use smooth words when 1 talk upon smooth subjects, 
and so on, according to the nature of the case that comes before me," or 
"Well, excuse me for that language." ' 

Though in many ways puritanical, Heber was a humanist, full of 
imagination and humor. No audience ever dozed through his sermons, for 
they might miss his tough, personal, or witty remarks. He was also earthy. 
Sometimes his language offended — but no matter. The people had to be 
motivated to exceptional righteousness, for they were then, at last, free 
from the Gentiles, free to build the Kingdom, where as the hymn declares, 
"none could hurt or make afraid." Later, as Gentile wickedness seeped 
into the Mormon Arcadia, Heber denounced it harshly, and was faulted 
for his rough language by those in and out of the church. 

Heber's theology was similar to his preaching — firmly orthodox in an 
unorthodox fashion, individual, and bold. Other than constantly exhort- 
ing the people to be good and obedient, he seldom presented or developed 
any particular theological or doctrinal themes. Many old-time Mormons 
felt that prepared sermons smacked too much of sectarianism. One's 
preaching should be "by the spirit." Quite literally did they accept the di- 
vine pronouncement, "Take therefore no thought what ye shall say. . . ." 
When non-Mormons quote some of Heber's provocative statements, it is 
difficult for Mormon apologists to claim he was quoted out of context, for 
he was seldom in context. He usually preached extempore without a spe- 
cific subject in mind. In any given "sermon" (some of which fill ten or 
more printed double-column pages) he would range simply and disjointed- 
ly over a variety of topics with only an occasional sign of oratory or at- 
tempt at rhetorical effect. One auditor reported his voice was often loud 
and high. Another observed, "He affects the Boanerges style and does not 
at times distain the part of Thersites [an argumentative soldier during the 
Trojan Wars] ... he prefers an everyday manner of speech, which savors 
rather of familarity than of reverence. The people look more amused when 
he speaks than when others harangue them, and they laugh readily, as al- 


most all crowds will, at the thinnest phantom of a joke. Mr. Kimball's 
movements contrasted strongly with those of his predecessor; they consist- 
ed of a stone-throwing gesture delivered on tiptoe, then of a descending 
movement. . . ." 4 

He seldom quoted scripture, but was fond of imagery. "Comparisons, 
analogies, metaphors, and the like came naturally and helped him to con- 
vey his messages with concreteness and vigor." 5 To stress repentance and 
obedience he often used his two favorite metaphors: the clay in the hands 
of the potter and the tool of the blacksmith — elements of trades he had 
worked at. Through the former, probably derived from Jeremiah, Isaiah, 
and Paul's Epistle to the Romans, Heber stressed the passivity of the clay 
and the potter's ability to mold it into a "vessel of honor." To him the 
Saints should be like that clay. Those who were "refractory and snappish" 
must, like brittle clay, be thrown back into the mill to be ground over 
again "until it becomes passive." 6 

A typical example of this oft-repeated metaphor is as follows: 

I do not know that 1 can compare it [the proper course in life] better 
than by the potter's business. It forms a good comparison. This is the 
course you must pursue, and I know of no other way that God has 
prepared for you to become sanctified, and moulded, and fashioned, 
until you become modelled to the likeness of the Son of God, by those 
who are placed to lead you. This is a lesson you have to learn as well 
as myself. . . . You have come from the mill, and you have been there 
grinding. For what purpose? To bring you into a passive condition. 
You have been gathered from the nations of the earth, from among 
the kindreds, tongues, and peoples of the world, to the Valley of the 
Great Salt Lake, to purify and sanctify yourselves, and become like 
the passive clay in the hands of the potter. Now suppose I subject my- 
self enough, in the hands of the potter, to be shaped according as he 
was dictated by the Great Master potter that rules over all things in 
heaven and on earth, he would make me into a vessel of honor. 

There are many vessels that are destroyed after they have been 
moulded and shaped. Why? Because they are not contented with the 
shape the potter has given them, but straightaway put themselves into 
a shape to please themselves; therefore they are beyond understand- 
ing what God designs, and they destroy themselves by the power of 
their own agency, for this is given to every man and woman, to do just 
as they please. That is all right, and all just. Well, then, you have to go 
through a great many modellings and shapes, then you have to be 
glazed and burned; and even in the burning, some vessels crack. What 
makes them crack? Because they are snappish; they would not crack, 
if they were not snappish and wilful/ 

Brigham's Outspoken Preacher 271 

Likewise the Saints should be like passive iron, which a blacksmith 
can forge into an "axe that will be as keen as a razor." Brittle and snappish 
iron had "to go back into the furnace again . . . because it was not pas- 
sive." 8 He remarked, "When you find a man or woman snappish and fret- 
ful, and not willing to be subject, you may know there is a good deal of 
dross in that character. . . . That dross has got to come out." 9 

Through these teachings and others using such images as the violin 
and the violinist, the sheep and the shepherd, the limbs and the tree, the 
troops and their file leader, he continually stressed submission to church 
authority, becoming one of the main sources of rhetorical authoritarian- 
ism in Mormonism. And when metaphoric suggestions failed, he fostered 
submission to established authority in more direct language. He never 
wearied of insisting that the Saints do their duty, follow their leaders, lis- 
ten to counsel — virtues he reiterated in every sermon. Heber continually 
held up Brigham Young as Joseph's sucessor, a prophet, leader, revelator, 
priest, governor, head, seer, holder of the keys to life and salvation, and 
dictator. "If I should tell you what the will of the Lord is," he once said, "it 
would be: do as my servant Brigham Young tells you to. Be content with 
your place. . . ." I0 

It would be erroneous to conclude that either Heber or the church 
tried to keep people under thoughtless subjection or desired a servile fol- 
lowing. To Heber the road to happiness, success, blessings, and ultimate 
exaltation was one of virtue and obedience, submission to God, and doing 
right. All people should aspire for the best, for the highest. If you will all 
honor the place you are now in," he said, "you will be raised higher as 
soon as you are ready." n 

Heber taught a very positive and humanistic view of God. To him 
God was "a lively, social and cheerful man." He reasoned, "I am perfectly 
satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and 
good-natured Being. Why? because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively, and 
good-natured when 1 have his spirit. . . . That arises from the perfection of 
His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man." A God 
without a sense of humor was inconceivable to Heber. In his straightfor- 
ward manner he said, "The Lord looks upon us as a good father looks 
upon his boys who are in the field at work. . . . That is the way my Father 
feels, and 1 feel so, when I have His Spirit and that is the reason I can com- 
prehend Him when I have his spirit. You have heard me say that 1 felt joy- 
ful, funny, and jocular, according to the portion of the Spirit of the Lord I 
enjoyed . . . and that makes me think that my Father in heaven felt so be- 
fore me."' 2 (No biographer, editor, compiler, copyist, or translator has 
ever permitted the biblical Father or Son even to smile: the New Testament 


God of Love is always grave. Not so in the Book of Mormon account of 
Christ's New World ministry. There the Son of Man smiled not once, but 
twice [3 Nephi 19 : 25, 30]. Heber may have noticed this.) 

Heber helped promulgate the unusual Mormon belief that "our Fa- 
ther in heaven was once as I am, if faithful I shall be as he is now." 11 This 
fundamental doctrine in Mormon theology was first publicly enunciated 
by Joseph Smith, and in spite of Heber's well-turned phrase, it lives today 
in the words of Lorenzo Snow: "As man is God once was; as God is man 
may become." 14 

Heber passed on a few other observations about Joseph Smith some- 
what at variance with the usual, almost mythic, view of a serene, com- 
pletely confident Prophet of God. According to Heber, Joseph's legs some- 
times "trembled when speaking." Joseph would "hold men up to see 
whether this people would worship them, to see whether they had discern- 
ment enough to know the difference between a righteous man and a 
wicked one. . . ," and if the people preferred the latter, "he was perfectly 
willing that we should have the opportunity to prove ourselves." Heber 
appreciated the difficulties the young, sensitive, and kind Prophet had in 
communicating with the Saints and controlling them. At times Joseph felt 
his mind closed because there was no room "in the hearts of his people for 
the glorious truths." Joseph "used to say in Nauvoo that when he came 
before the people he felt as though he were enclosed in an iron case, his 
mind was closed by the influences that were thrown around him; he was 
curtailed in his wishes and desires to do good; there was no room for him 
to expand, hence he could not make use of the revelations of God as he 
would have done. . . ." 15 

Though authoritarian himself, Heber did not see Joseph Smith in that 
light. "Joseph could not so thoroughly control the people," he said, "for 
they were wild like bulls; but when he could not make them do what he 
wanted them to do, he suffered them to do what they pleased." Heber 
thought a bishop in Utah had more influence over his ward than Joseph 
had over the church in his day. 16 Joseph would sometimes test men in un- 
usual ways, especially to see if they were obedient. Once Joseph ordered 
Heber to drive his team between two trees where even one horse could not 
go. Heber said he could not. Joseph stared at him, and said again, "Drive 
through." Heber jerked his reins out and popped his whip. "There," said 
Joseph, "that will do. I only wanted to see you try." 17 

As would be expected, to Heber there was nothing mysterious about 
man's relationship to the Deity: our spirits are literally God's children and 
we are watched over by Him or His agents. Once Heber asked rhetorically, 
"Did God produce us? He did, and every son and daughter of Adam upon 

Brigham's Outspoken Preacher 2.73 

the face of this earth; and he produced us upon the same principle that we 
produce one another." Whether the Father himself monitored every act 
and thought of the Saints was immaterial to Heber. "Some may think that 
the Almighty does not see their doings, but if He does not, the angels and 
ministering spirits do. They see you and your works and, 1 have no doubt 
but they occasionally communicate your conduct to the Father, or to the 
Son, or to Joseph. . . ." He, of course, did not accept the Virgin birth of 
orthodox Christianity. "According to the scripture," he insisted, "he 
[Christ] is the first begotten of his father in the flesh, and there was 
nothing unnatural about it." 18 

To Heber life had a clear and vital purpose: it was a time to do what 
had to be done and could only be done in the flesh. "If we make good use 
of our lives, and of our bodies, and of our talents, it will be well with us, 
but if we do not, we have to give an account of the deeds done in the 
body." This was the time to overcome passions. He chided the Saints for 
thinking that they were "going to step right into the presence of God when 
you leave this state of mortality." Our emotional instincts had to be tamed 
— if not here, then there — before the Last Judgment. 19 

Closely related to his understanding of the purpose of this life was 
Heber's eschatology, his ideas regarding the resurrection and life after 
death. He fully accepted the Mormon doctrine of a literal and universal 
resurrection (even of animals). He believed, however, that many, through 
sin, would be resurrected only to a second death, a form of annihilation. 
He reasoned ontologically that some "men will sin so that they will be 
damned spiritually and temporally. There will be a dissolution of the natu- 
ral body and of the spirit, and they will go back into their native elements, 
the same as the chemist can go to work and dissolve a five-dollar gold 
piece " 20 

He seems to have believed that many, through the dishonoring of 
their God-given spirits and bodies, would not be worthy to continue this 
existence beyond resurrection, that their bodies and spirits would have to 
be annihilated and they would have to start existence all over again as "an 
intelligence." All that they had gained and learned as spirit children of 
God and as mortals would be taken from them and they would regress to 
whatever type of existence they had had before they became spirit children 
of God. 21 

He also taught that after death "we . . . have to pass by sentinels that 
are placed between us and our Father and God"; no one, however impor- 
tant, could lead another into the celestial world, "because Justice sits at 
the door, and will not admit a single soul until he has paid the uttermost 
farthing." 22 


Heber had the interesting, plain, and sensible cosmology of a man in 
harmony with nature. As to the origin of the earth he answered, "From its 
parent earths . . . the earth is alive. If it was not it could not produce." 
Everything upon the earth grew before it came here." In fact, Adam and 
Eve "actually brought from heaven every variety of fruit, of the seed of 
vegetables, the seed of flowers, and planted them in this earth on which we 
dwell." 23 

He accepted and taught the unique Mormon belief that this earth is 
not only our home now, but will be the location of our heaven and hell 
after death, after the Last Judgment, and after the earth itself has been per- 
fected and cleansed by fire. 

When we escape from this earth, we suppose we are going to heaven: 
Do you suppose you are going to the earth that Adam came from? 
that Elohim [God the Father] came from? where Jehovah the Lord 
[the pre-mortal Christ] came from? No. When you have learned to 
become obedient to the Father and God of this earth, and obedient to 
the messengers He sends— when you have done all that, remember 
you are not going to leave this earth. You will never leave it until you 
become qualified, and capable, and capacitated to become a father of 
an earth yourselves. Not one soul of you will ever leave this earth, for 
if you go to hell, it is on this earth; and if you go to heaven, it is on 
this earth; and you will not find it anywhere else. 24 

Not only was heaven to be on this earth, but, according to Heber, 
very much like this earthly life: all the good things of this existence would 
be elevated to the ultimate degree. Even the church organization would be 
similar. In the next life we would "see the church organized just as it is 
here, and you will find all the officers down to the Deacon," and see that 
Joseph "calls and sends Elders to preach the Gospel to the spirits in 
prison." 25 

To Heber, angels were "men who stood fast through tribulations; 
they are prophets and apostles and patriarchs who once lived upon the 
earth, and bore testimony of the truth of the Gospel of the Son of God," 
and he apparently believed that the "Holy Ghost is a man; he is one of the 
sons of our father." In reference to Judas he taught a gruesome end. "Judas 
lost that saving principle, and they took him and killed him. It is said in 
the Bible that his bowels gushed out; but they actually kicked him until his 
bowels came out." 26 

Heber claimed, as did a few other Mormons of his day, that Christ 
was married — indeed that Christ was married to both Mary and Mar- 
tha and that the famous wedding of Cana was in reality Christ's own 
wedding. 27 

Brigham's Outspoken Preacher Z75 

In his own mind Heber was not only a follower of Christ, but a literal 
descendant. In his last public sermon, two months before his death, he 
said, "You do not know who Heber C. Kimball is, or you would do bet- 
ter." 28 If one can accept the possibility of Christ's marriage, then such a 
descent is possible. 

Perhaps the most unusual theological point the witty Heber ever 
voiced an opinion on was on the "burning issue" of whether or not resur- 
rected bodies would leave a hole in the earth when they were called forth. 
He did not believe they would. 29 Such questions amused early Mormons in 
the same way some twentieth-century Mormons argue with mock gravity 
such profundities as whether the Pearly Gates swing in or out. 

Possessing a balanced sense of humor, Heber could joke of things 
about which most men are overly sensitive — his bald head and his lack of 
formal education. "All my lazy hairs were gone," he said, because on his 
first mission he quickly found out how unlearned he was. "I began to study 
the scriptures . . . and I had so little knowledge that the exercise of study 
began to swell my head and open my pores in so much that the hairs 
popped out." He said on another occasion that "my hair was not burnt off 
by the sun; it came out by the roots, through studying and labouring in the 
great Latter-day work." He may also have been jesting when, in reference 
to prophecy, he advised people to "prophesy, but be sure to prophesy 
right." In reference to his rough style and lack of education he said, "I can 
make grammar faster than you can swallow it; and my grammar is just as 
good as anybody's, if their's is not better than mine." 30 

Alternating with his serious sermons and his humor were Heber's 
bluntness and saltiness. Even Mormons winced sometimes at what he said. 
In 1857 President Young commented publicly, "He is very careless in the 
use of language — I will liken brother Heber's language to the conduct of 
some of this people. He talks just as ideas happen to come into his mind; 
and some of the people act just as it happens at the moment, not thinking 
what they do. . . . He has so long been in the habit of making his own 
dictionary and using his words out of it, that it would be difficult for him 
to change his style now." 31 In the late 1850s when he lambasted the U.S. 
troops stationed in Utah, some Saints cried out, "Heber! don't for God's 
sake! All the world will be upon us!" To which he replied, "Damn the 
world." 32 

Once in the Tabernacle, as Heber warmed up to criticizing the U.S. 
Army and federal officers, he asked Utah's delegate to Congress, John M. 
Bernhisel, "Are these Federal officers our masters?" By that time, however, 
the embarrassed Bernhisel had left the stand. Whereupon Heber "com- 


manded in a tone of authority, 'Come in here, Bro. Bernhisel, out of that 
vestry. You always run when I get at it.'" 33 His style was effective withal. 
The Saints listened and many reformed. 

As a missionary he seems to have been a plain and simple preacher. 
This brusqueness began to appear in Nauvoo after the assassination of 
Joseph Smith, and as he began to feel the weight of authority and respon- 
sibility as a church leader. After 1846, as a member of the First Presidency, 
he became more forceful still. By 1852 he was publicly "damning" ene- 
mies of the church and sending people "to hell cross lots." To sinners in 
and out of the church he thundered, "For God's sake cease this course; for 
your sake, for my sake, and for Christ's sake. . . ." Once in 1857 he an- 
nounced, "There are poor, miserable curses in our midst . . . may God Al- 
mighty curse such men and women, and every damned thing there is upon 
the earth that opposes this people." To those who raised his ire he might 
say, "I wish I had some stones! I want to pelt your cursed heads, for you lie 
like hell." On one occasion he said, "If men don't stop stealing and saying 
that I uphold them I will kill them with my own hands, so help me God." 34 

By the mid-i850S he had become fearful of Gentile contamination 
and lasciviousness, and there is a direct relationship between the earthi- 
ness of his language and the amount of sin and contamination he attrib- 
uted to the growth of a non-Mormon population, especially federal troops 
and territorial appointees. As uncompromising as the old apostle Jude, he 
would thunder publicly, "There are men now sitting close by this stand as 
wicked as hell, who associate with apostates, with whoremasters, and 
with whores . . . ;" and regarding the wicked: "Do I love the wicked? Yes, I 
love them in so much that I wish they were in hell . . . that's loving the 
wicked, to send them there to hell to be burnt out until they are purified." 35 

When some women left or threatened to leave Utah with the soldiers 
he said, "The women will be damned that will go; she shall dry up in the 
fountain of life . . . but they ain't any a going unless they are whores." 
Easterners would surely have been stunned by "If I am not a good man, I 
have no right in this church to a wife or wives, or to the powers to propa- 
gate my species. What, then should be done with me? Make a eunuch of 
me, and stop my propagation." 36 

Heber was so outspoken that many visitors to Salt Lake City made it 
a point to meet him, or at least to hear him preach. To reporters he was 
good "copy," to tourists he was an attraction as big as Brigham Young. For 
years he was carefully monitored by Gentiles, garnering condemnation as 
well as adulation. 

For a decade after the inauguration of the first regular and commer- 
cial stagecoach service from the Missouri River to San Francisco in 1859 

Brigham's Outspoken Preacher 277 

and the coming of the railroad in 1869, Salt Lake City became a popular 
and welcome stopover. By that time patrons of the Russell, Majors & 
Waddell, Ben Holladay, and Wells, Fargo &: Company stages were usually 
exhausted after ten or more days and nights of rough coach travel, indif- 
ferent food, and fear of banditti and Indians. Among those non-Mormon 
visitors who both heard and recorded Heber were four newspapermen, 
two military men, two professional humorists, several adventurers and 
travelers, an artist, and a governor and his lady. Some who criticized 
Heber were rather snide and brief, suggesting that neither they nor their 
readers could or should take him seriously; after all he was a Mormon 
of little formal education and many wives. Furthermore, Victorians of 
Heber's day — a day when prudery became absurd, when almost all words 
referring to the covered parts of the body, to specifically male or female 
animals, to garments such as trousers, breeches, shirt, corset, or to the bib- 
lical ass and cockatrice, were avoided, when Lady Gough decreed in her 
Etiquette (1863) that "the perfect hostess will see to it that the works of 
male and female authors will be properly separated on her bookshelves. 
Their proximity, unless they happen to be married, should not be toler- 
ated" — could abide no public references, however oblique, to female anat- 
omy or to procreation. Heber, although very conservative and puritanical 
in many respects, was totally unconcerned about such conventions. He 
saw nothing wrong in discussing what was natural, legal, and engaged in 
by his own God. But to proper easterners, some of Heber's language was 

One of the earliest recorded negative views was filed by a special cor- 
respondent of the New York Herald. Captain Jesse A. Gove, a member of 
the Utah expedition of 1857-58, was indignant when Heber was so "vul- 
gar" as to say the following: 

In our city there are a great many poor women. 1 am aware of that, 
and they will be eternally poor, for they waste everything they can get 
hold of, and they are nasty and filthy, for 1 see them dragging their 
dresses behind them; and though they are so poor that they cannot 
get up in the morning and wash their faces and hands before break- 
fast, yet they have got about eighteen or twenty inches of their dresses 
dragging in the mud. Now you look, when you go out of this meeting, 
and see if you do not see several of them. . . . 

1 was speaking to a lady, the other day, about long dresses, and, 
said she, "That's the fashion Queen Victoria established"; says I, 
"What the hell has Queen Victoria to do over here?". . . . 

1 remarked to Dr. Lorenzo, a few days ago, when it was tremendous 


muddy, and a woman was walking through the mud with her dress 
whopping over, and then stretching out, and then whopping over on 
the other side, you follow that woman home, and you find she has 
muddied her feet clear up to — her legs. 37 

In 1863 Fitz Hugh Ludlow, a young and sophisticated member of 
New York City's literati traveling overland to California, broke his journey 
at Salt Lake City to inspect the Mormons. Ludlow was impressed enough 
with Heber to devote to him in his book In the Heart of the Continent 
more than eighteen pages, most of which was favorable. (Although in an 
appendix Ludlow destroyed his objectivity by telling, or retelling, one of 
the wildest anti-Mormon tales of corruption and revenge in print.) But 
Ludlow reported that Heber misquoted scripture to suit his purposes and 
talked a long time without saying anything. And like other proper people, 
he disapproved of some of Heber's topics of conversation, which "by the 
common consent of civilized communities in this age, are wholly with- 
drawn from the currency of talk, [but which] were his most favorite and 
habitual topics of conversation. . . . Heber's favorite audience is one 
largely consisting of 'the beloved sisters/ and to this end he expatiates by 
the hour after a fashion; which would crimson the cheeks of an assembly 
of Camilles, not utterly lost to the memories of pure home childhood." ' 

In 1865 Heber was scrutinized by two editors and an adventurer. 
Samuel Bowles, editor of the Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican, and 
a few friends went west that summer to get better acquainted with the 
post-Civil War country. They stayed in Salt Lake City for eight days. After 
meeting Young, Bowles concluded, "Of his companions, Heber C. Kim- 
ball is perhaps the most notorious from his vulgar and coarse speech. He 
ranks high among the 'prophets' here and is as unctuous in his manner 
as Macassar hair oil, and as pious in phrase as good old Thomas a 
Kempis."* 9 

Bowles's companion, Albert D. Richardson, editor of the New York 
Tribune, dismissed Heber as "a large man, with an oily sensual face, and a 
bald head, which he protects by wearing his hat on nearly all occasions 
... [he is] one-third Aminidam Sleek, one-third John C. Calhoun (in dis- 
loyalty, not ability), and one-third circus clown." 40 

That same year James Knox Polk Miller, a young, rather self-righ- 
teous eastern adventurer, went west, with $3,500 in cash and aspirations 
to fame and fortune. For a season he tried merchandising in Salt Lake City. 
On one bleak, snowy April Sabbath he went to a general conference of the 
church just to hear Heber talk. "In person," Miller noted — rather incor- 

Brigham's Outspoken Preacher 279 

rectly it seems — "he is of the Abe Lincoln order, tall, gaunt and boney; his 
manner of speaking is a sort of vulgar talking, rambling discourse in the 
course of which he often starts in a sentence at a terrible yell and delivers 
the last three or four words in a voice so low that it is unaudible at a dis- 
tance of 20 feet. He is decidedly uneducated, and 1 presume, owing to the 
realization of the fact, he confines himself mostly to remarks, or rather to 
attacks, not particularly characterized by either moderation or decency." 
But most upsetting to Miller, as it had been to the good Captain 
Gove, was Heber's reference to female anatomy. According to Miller he 
said, "I went a courting in those days. I wanted to court my wife in proper 
style so I bought her a dress before I married her. It took 5 yards in those 
day. A man could tell what he got in those days. Now you can't tell how 
much is under there (motions)." 41 Apparently it was the "motions' 1 that 
offended most. 

One of the earliest positive opinions about Heber came from a Jewish 
artist. Solomon Nuries Carvalho came west as an artist-photographer with 
Fremont's expedition in 1854. Because of illness he left the expedition and 
spent some time in Salt Lake City. He met Heber and recorded perspica- 
ciously that he was a "noble looking man over six feet and well propor- 
tioned, he speaks fluently, his language is inornate, and indicates an origi- 
nal mind without cultivation." 4 - 

In 1858, at the conclusion of the Utah War, Colonel Thomas L. Kane, 
who had first visited the Mormons at Winter Quarters in 1846, was 
among them again. He and Heber had always liked each other, and Kane 
was not stinting in his praise. "Mr. Kimball," he declared, is "a man of 
singular generosity and purity of character." 4 ' At the same time, Utah's 
new governor, Alfred Cumming, described Heber as "a fierce, brave, un- 
flinching, unchangeable man ... a fine man." He discovered that the 
members of the First Presidency "were three exceedingly fine, intellectual 
men," and admitted he had been deceived in what he had heard of them.^ 

In 1859 Horace Greeley, founder and editor of the New York Trib- 
une, made his famous overland journey to San Francisco, which included a 
week's stopover in Salt Lake City. While there he heard sermons in the 
Tabernacle. He did not like them, observing that they were "intensely and 
exclusively Mormon," and much more Judaic than Christian. He must 
have been delighted, however, to have heard Heber in top form, and he 
never forgot a typical Kimballism, "1 do pray for my enemies: I pray that 
they may all go to hell." 

On the afternoon of July 13 Greeley met President Young "in the sec- 


ond-story parlor of the largest of his houses, "where he was also intro- 
duced to Heber and D. H. Wells. Afterwards he wrote that the members of 
the First Presidency were "plain men, evidently born and reared to a life of 
labor, and looking as little like crafty hypocrites or swindlers as any body 
of men I ever met," and that most Mormons he had met were "pure- 
minded, well-meaning people." 4S 

In 1861 Sir Richard Burton, the famous orientalist, spent three weeks 
in Salt Lake City, and though he minutely recorded almost all he saw and 
heard, he wrote nothing titillating about Heber. "It is only fair to both 
sides," he did record, "to state that Mr. Kimball is accused by Gentiles of 
calling his young wives from the pulpit, little heifers,' of entering into 
physiological details belonging to the Dorcas [Welfare?] Society, or the 
clinical lectureroom, rather than the house of worship, and of transgress- 
ing the bounds of all decorum when reproving the sex for its penchants 
and ridicules" He then added, "At the same time I never heard, nor heard 
of, any such indelicacy, during my stay at Gt. S. L. City. The Saints abjured 
all knowledge of the 'fact,' and — in this case ... so gross a scandal should 
not be adopted from Gentile mouths." 4 * 

The young Samuel Clemens, who had not yet become Mark Twain, 
spent two days in Salt Lake City in 1861. His brother Orion had been ap : 
pointed secretary to the territorial governor of Nevada, and Sam was to be 
his assistant. Ten years later he wrote of some of his experiences in Rough- 
ing It. To him Heber was "a shrewd Connecticut Yankee," a saint of "high 
degree," and a "mighty man of commerce." Regarding polygamy, Sam al- 
lowed as how he was willing to enter it 

until saw the Mormon women. Then I was touched. My heart was 
wiser than my head. It warmed toward those poor, ungainly and pa- 
thetically 'homely' creatures, and as I tried to hide the generous mois- 
ture in my eyes I said, 'No — the man that marries one of them has 
done an act of Christian charity which entitles him to the kindly ap- 
plause of mankind, not their harsh censure — and the man [Heber?] 
that marries sixty of them has done a deed of open-handed generosity 
so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered in his presence 
and worship in silence. 4 " 

Three years later another humorist was among the Saints. Charles 
Farrar Browne, better known as Artemus Ward, an eastern newspaper re- 
porter turned lecturer, spent part of the fall of 1 864 in Salt Lake City. Prior 
to this visit he had published an imaginary and unflattering Visit to Brig- 
ham Young, which concluded with his well-known words, "I girded up my 
Lines and fled the Seen. I packt up my duds and Left Salt Lake, which is a 

Brigham's Outspoken Preacher 2.81 

2nd Soddum & Germorrer, inhabitid by as theavin & unprincipled set of 
retches as ever drew Breth in any spot on the Globe." 48 In Salt Lake City 
some Gentiles fully expected that he would end up wearing a wooden 
overcoat or having his throat nicely slit from ear to ear. Instead, Ward 
stayed over for two weeks with no unpleasant incident. 

On the basis of that visit Ward developed an extremely popular lec- 
ture on the Mormons, tickets to which read "Admit The Bearer And One 
Wife, Yours Trooly, A. Ward." 49 This lecture, which probably seemed hi- 
larious to contemporaries but seems only ridiculous today, included the 
following parody about Heber and polygamy. 

Mr. [Heber] Kimball is the first vice-president of the Mormon 
church — and would — consequently — succeed to the full presidency 
on Brigham Young's death. 

Brother Kimball is a gay and festive cuss of some seventy summers 
— or some-eres thereabout. He has one thousand head of cattle and a 
hundred head of wives. He says they are awful eaters. 

Mr. Kimball had a son — a lovely young man — who was married to 
ten interesting wives. But one day — while he was absent from home 
— these ten wives went out walking with a handsome young man — 
which so enraged Mr. Kimball's son — which made Mr. Kimball's son 
so jealous — that he shot himself with a horse pistuel. 

The doctor who attended him — a very scientific man — informed 
me that the bullet entered the inner parallelogram of his diaphragmat- 
ic thorax, superinducing membranous hemorrhage in the outer cuti- 
cle of the basiliconthamaturgist. It killed him. I should have thought it 

I hope his sad end will be a warning to all young wives who go out 
walking with handsome young men. Mr. Kimball's son is now no 
more. He sleeps beneath the cypress — the myrtle — and the willow. 
This music is a dirge by the eminent pianist for Mr. Kimball's son. He 
died by request. 

I request to say that efforts were made to make a Mormon of me 
while I was in Utah. 

It was a leap year when I was there — and seventeen young widows 
— the wives of a deceased Mormon — offered me their hearts and 
hands. I called on them one day — and taking their soft white hands in 
mine — which made eighteen hands altogether — I found them in tears. 

And I said — "Why is this thus? What is the reason of this thusness?" 

They hove a sigh — seventeen sighs of different size — They said — 

"Oh — soon thou wilt be gonested away!" 

I told them that when I got ready to leave a place I wcntestcd. 

They said — "Doth not like us?" 


I said — "I doth — I doth!" 

I also said — "I hope your intentions are honorable — as I am a lone 
child — my parents being far-far away." 

They then said — "Wilt not marry us?" 

I said — "Oh — no — it cannot was." 

Again they asked me to marry them — and again I declined. When 
they cried — 

"Oh — cruel man! This is too much — oh! too much!" 

1 told them that it was on account of the muchness that I declined. 50 

Ludlow, the above-mentioned New York City bohemian who had 
criticized Heber's language, also recorded some positive observations. 51 
One day in June 1863, Ludlow was visiting the Salt Lake Theatre and was 
introduced to several prominent men of the territory. "Out of all present," 
he observed, "I recognized one man as the ruling spirit the moment I set 
my eyes on him, and it required but small discrimination of character to 
do so. He more fully met my preconceived ideal than any of the Saints I 
saw on that or any other time. He might have stood for a full-length statue 
of "The Mormon.'" 

Ludlow continued, "He was a man apparently somewhat over sixty, 
but showing none of the infirmity of years. He was erect, portly, full- 
chested, broad-shouldered, powerfully made, about six feet high, and 
weighed two hundred pounds. . . . Everything about him spoke of rude 
animal vigor. His face was very striking; a compound of keen wit, finesse, 
insight into character. . . . His bright eyes were small and twinkling; his 
well proportioned nose regular, but coarse ... his chin was double and 
shiny, from the twin effect of good living and close-shaving." 

Ludlow summed up this character sketch by writing, "His toute en- 
semble spoke a man who, to the utmost, relished and possessed the sev- 
enth heaven of bodily bliss; unalloyed by the slightest complication with 
poetic fantasies, undisturbed by the least intrusion of metaphysical obsta- 
cles or problems ... the man who had climbed to the second place in the 
nation of one hundred thousand people, was one of the most energetic 
apostles of the Latter-day faith, and shared Brigham Young's most inti- 
mate friendship, must have possessed very strong qualities whereby to ac- 
complish these things. . . ." 

Then followed a full description of Heber's dress: 

His dress is not a sectarian uniform, nor is it absolutely eccentric; 
still it is curious. One would not like to dress in such fashion any- 
where out of Salt Lake City, nor even there, unless he were an apostle. 
The costume consists (beginning as is proper from the base), im- 

Brigbayns Outspoken Preacher 283 

primis, of a pair of plain but well blackened and polished cowskin 
shoes, with simple galloon strings running through two holes each in 
flaps and upper; next, a pair of pantaloons, fashioned out of the iden- 
tical buff and apparently cotton fabric, which twenty-five years ago 
was worn in the nursery by the author's contemporaries, under the 
agreeably Shemitic-sounding name of nankeen (and which he may 
say, fascinated by its clean look, no less than its cool and pleasant 
memory, he has often sought for in the shops of adult experience); 
thirdly, of a vest identical in material with the pantaloons; next, of an 
alpaca coat, whose pattern, though ecclesiastical, the ungodly call 
"shadbelly," but which, to unconverted ears, will be familiar as a 
"cutaway" or "clawhammer jacket." . . . The aperture of the nan- 
keen vest is cut to a medium depth, and discloses a faultless frill of 
delicately hand-stitched linen, white as a snowflake fresh caught on 
the apostolic bosom. A narrow black stock, of silk, loosely holds the 
turn-down collar about a throbbing, manly throat; while, last of all 
exterior embellishments, a sugar-loaf hat, of the finest yellow leghorn, 
puts the top finish on my statue of Heber Kimball. 

Like many others, Ludlow made it a point to hear Heber in the pulpit 
and devoted four pages of small type to what he heard. He was, quite 
frankly, disappointed — 'it was not indecent." All he heard from the cele- 
brated haranguer were some "disloyal" remarks about the U.S. troops sta- 
tioned in Utah. "I confess," he claimed, "that I felt my curiosity disap- 
pointed while my good taste and ethical sense were relieved, for I had 
braced my self to stand any amount of deviation from the line usually fol- 
lowed by preachers." 52 

In balance, Heber comes off well. Perhaps the key to these contradic- 
tory views lies in the sensitive observations of a woman — Elizabeth dim- 
ming, wife of Governor Cumming. After an extended period in Utah, she 
concluded, "In H. Kimball's reported speeches, he is coarse, vulgar, de- 
nunciatory. In conversation he is plain, sensible, straight forward and gen- 
tlemanly — full of humor, sometimes witty but nothing coarse or disagree- 
able as I saw him."" 

Heber also seemed to have some special talent, perhaps a spiritual 
gift, for prophecy, and he eventually gained the reputation among Mor- 
mons as a prophet. He did not profess to be one, but he came to think he 
might be, because, as he said, "people all the time are telling me that I 
am." Brigham Young, a pre-eminently practical man, admitted on several 
occasions, "I am not a visionary man, neither am I given much to proph- 
esying. When I want any of that done I call on brother Heber — he is my 
Prophet, he loves to prophesy, and I love to hear him."" 


Heber's gift was not to reveal the mind and will of God to His people, 
for that was the exclusive prerogative of the chief "Prophet, Seer, and Rev- 
elator," that is, the President of the Church— Brigham Young. But Mor- 
mon theology holds that all members of the First Presidency and the 
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are "Prophets, Seers, and Revelators," so 
Heber had the right to his gift in expressing inspired promises, warnings, 
and predictions, running from minor, offhand remarks to utterances of 
major import. Mormon historians have suggested that he prophesied more 
than any other Mormon leader save Joseph Smith. Certainly he touched 
the minds and souls of Mormon followers during the first thirty-eight 
years of their history as few others have done. 

Here are samples taken from various sources of such statements 
which came to pass. One of the first on record is a prediction to Parley 
Pratt that he would go on a mission to Canada and that his invalid wife 
would bear him a son. On Heber's first mission to England in 1837 he told 
his companion Willard Richards, "I baptized your wife today"; Richards 
later married this woman. In England in 1840 he told a Sister not to marry 
a certain young man she was engaged to, as he would apostatize and leave 
the church; she was to wait, for her future husband had not at the time 
joined the church. 

Prior to the exodus from Nauvoo he promised the people that in five 
years they would be better off than they were then. He also said they 
would have twenty-dollar gold pieces. Just before quitting Winter Quar- 
ters he predicted that two infant sons who remained behind with their 
mothers would eventually come to Utah. In 1853, at the laying of the first 
cornerstone of the Salt Lake temple, he said the power of evil would rage 
and the Saints would suffer persecution when the "walls reached the 

He continually warned the people to store up grain against hard 
times. He said the army would not enter Utah in 1857, that they would 
not have to burn their homes or cut down their orchards, but would even- 
tually prosper and live in peace. After the army came in 1858 he pro- 
claimed in 1859 that it would leave the next year. In 1857 he predicted 
that it would be but a few years before the states would be divided. The 
North, the South, and California were to be separate. In Provo in 1863 he 
took dinner with a man who had six sons and told him his seventh should 
also be a son. He told a rich man, William Godsby, "William, you are a 
man of affluence and wealth, but you are desserting the truth, and if you 
do not repent and turn to the Lord, you will see the day that you will beg 
for your flour." 

Brigham's Outspoken Preacher Z85 

During one of the trying economic times of John Taylor, who later 
became president of the church, Heber boldly prophesied that Taylor 
would yet live in the largest and best house in Salt Lake City. 

Some of his prophecies were insignificant, offhand utterances. Once 
he gave a man a half-dollar and told him to keep it and he would never 
want for money. At another time his hat blew off on Main Street and as he 
gave chase, one of a group with whom he had been speaking laughed at 
him. "Never mind," he told that person, "your hat will blow off some day, 
but your head will be in it." 

Shortly before Heber's death he had a long conversation with Aman- 
da H. Wilcox, who went straight home afterward and recorded that he 
had told her that most of the buildings on Main Street would be replaced 
with others three to six stories high, and had specified that a six-story 
building would be built on the southeast corner of Main and South Tem- 
ple, that on the northeast corner of the same intersection a building would 
rise that would "be a credit and honor to the inhabitants of this whole 
intermountain region," and that on the southwest corner a "large fire- 
proof building will be erected with an addition to it on the west." He 
added that because of polygamy "our brethren would be imprisoned until 
the penitentiary shall be full." (The truthfulness of this account has been 
questioned. For some of Heber's prophetic misses, see chapter 18, note 19.) 


1. Mormons have seldom worried about being considered "peculiar." They 
simply refer to 1 Peter 2:9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a 
holy nation, a peculiar people." Some Mormons seem to pride themselves on being 
peculiar. In my youth I was fortunate enough to hear a little old lady once declare, 
"Yes, we are peculiar, but please, let us not be too damn peculiar." The uniqueness 
of Mormonism has given the faith few natural allies. 

2. Journal of Discourses, vol. 5 (Aug. 2, 1857), 99-100, an indication that 
Heber's printed sermons have been edited. 

3. Ibid., vol. 6 (Nov. 8, 1857), 34. While Heber may have been unusually 
free in his language, he was not the only churchman to be so. The General Council 
Minutes of his day reveal a great deal of rough language. 

4. Richard F. Burton, The City of the Saints, ed. Fawn M. Brodie (New York: 
Alfred A. Knopf, 1963), 289. 

5. Davis Bitton, "Heber C. Kimball's Authoritarian Imagery," paper read at 
Conference on the Language of the Mormons, Provo, Utah, 1974. 

6. Journal of Discourses, vol. 1 (Oct. 9, 1852), 161. 


7. Ibid. 

8. Ibid., vol. 5 (Aug. 2, 1857), 131. 

9. Ibid. 

10. John Pulsipher Scrapbook, Apr. 2, 1854, Church Archives. 

11. Ibid. 

12. Ibid., vol. 5 (Aug. 23, 1857), 180, vol. 4 (Feb. 8, 1857), 222. 

13. Public Minutes, Aug. 8, 1864, Church Archives. 

14. In the famous King Follett funeral sermon of Apr. 7, 1844 in Nauvoo, 
Joseph Smith said, "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, 
and sits enthroned in yonder heavens" (Roberts, ed., History of the Church, vol. 6, 
305). This may have been the first public mention, but there is evidence that the 
belief was held privately earlier. In 1839 Lorenzo Snow is supposed to have had 
this insight regarding man's relation to the Deity. He related it to Brigham Young, 
who thought it was true but told Snow to "lay it on the shelf" and in due time it 
would be taught publicly by Joseph Smith. Thomas C. Romney, The Life of 
Lorenzo Snow: Fifth President of the Church . . . (Salt Lake City: Nicholas G. 
Morgan, Sr., 1955), 46-47. 

15. Journal of Discourses, vol. 2 (Sept. 17, 1854), 220, vol. 3 (Oct. 6, 1855), 
124, vol. 10 (June 27, 1863), 233. 

16. Ibid., vol. 4 (May 31, 1857), 330. 

17. John Zimmerman Brown, Autobiography of Pioneer John Brown (Salt 
Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, 1941), 76. 

18. Journal of Discourses, vol. 6 (Nov. 29, 1857), 101, vol. 3 (Mar. 2, 1856), 
228, vol. 8 (Sept. 2, i860), 211. 

19. Ibid., vol. 5 (July 11, 1852), 34, vol. 3 (Apr. 18, 1852), 22. 

20. Ibid., vol. 5 (July 26, 1857), 95, vol. 5 (Sept. 27, 1857), 271. 

21. No one has ever defined the Mormon use of the term "an intelligence," 
but it seems to be close to "character," "personality," or an eternal something with 
the capacity to learn. The expression derives from Section 93 of the Doctrine and 
Covenants, the most philosophical of Joseph's revelations: "Man was also in the 
beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, 
neither indeed can be." 

22. Journal of Discourses, vol. 1 (Nov. 4, 1852), 356. 

23. Ibid., vol. 10 (June 27, 1863), 235. Cf. Genesis 2:5. 

24. Loc. cit. 

25. Ibid., vol. 4 (June 29, 1856), 4. 

26. Ibid., vol. 10 (Feb. 6, 1862), 102, vol. 6 (Dec. 13, 1857), 125-26, vol. 5 
(Aug. 23, 1857), 179. 

27. Mary Ellen Kimball Journal, 54, Church Archives. 

28. The author has in his possession a letter from J. Golden Kimball, a son of 
Heber, stating that Heber believed he was descended from Christ. 

29. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints, 560. 

30. Journal of Discourses, vol. 4 (Sept. 28, 1856), 197, vol. 5 (July 12, 
1857), 31, vol. 5 (Apr. 6, 1857), 23, vol. 4 (June 21, 1857), 366. 

Brigbam's Outspoken Preacber 287 

31. Ibid., vol. 6 (Nov. 8, 1857), 34. 

32. Ibid., vol. 5 (Aug. 23, 1851), 181. 

33. Valley Tan, Sept. 14, 1859. 

34. Journal of Discourses, vol. 4 (Sept. 28, 1856), 109, vol. 5 (July 12, 
1857), 32; John Pulsipher Scrapbook, Aug. 13, 1854, Church Archives; Journal of 
Discourses, vol. 5 (Aug. 23, 1857), 178. 

35. Ibid., vol. 4 (Dec. 21, 1856), 140, vol. 4 (Feb. 8, 1857), 223. 

36. /£?/</., vol. 5 (Aug. 2, 1857), 132, vol. 5 (July 12, 1857), 29. 

37. As reprinted in Otis G. Hammond, ed., The Utah Expedition, 185 7- 
1S5S; Letters of Captain Jesse A. Gove . . . Special Correspondent of the New 
York Herald (Concord: New Hampshire Historical Society, 1928), 209. 

38. Ludlow, The Heart of the Continent, 342. 

39. Samuel Bowles, Across the Continent (Springfield, Mass.: Samuel 
Bowles, 1866), 87. 

40. Hirshson, The Lion of the Lord, 267. "Aminidam Sleek" does not appear 
to be a known pseudonym or a fictional character. Someone, perhaps Richardson 
himself, seems to have been imitating the neologistic habit of Dickens by joining 
Aminidam (Aminidab of the Old Testament?) with Sleek (from slick, city slicker?). 

41. Andrew F. Rolle, ed., The Road to Virginia City: The Diary of James 
Knox Polk Miller (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, i960), 53, 55, 56. 

42. Solomon Nunes Carvalho, Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far 
West (1854; reprinted New York: Jewish Publishing Society of America, 1954), 

43. Thomas L. Kane, The Mormons: A Discourse Delivered before the His- 
torical Society of Pennsylvania, March i6 y 1850, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: King and 
Baird, 1850), 871. 

44. Historian's Office Journal, Apr. 15, 1858, Church Archives. 

45. Horace Greeley, Neiv York Daily Tribune, Aug. 20, 1859, as cited in 
Mulder and Mortensen, Among the Mormons, 327. 

46. Burton, The City of the Saints, 290. 

47. Mark Twain, Roughing It (Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing, 
1872), 1 17-18. Bowles is quoted in the Vedette of Dec. 4, 1865, as having ob- 
served, "The second president and favorite prophet of the church, Heber C. Kim- 
ball, who in church and theatre, keeps the cold from his bare head and the divine 
afflatus in, by throwing a red bandanna handkerchief over it, is even less fortunate 
in the beauty of his wives. . . ." 

48. Artemus Ward, The Complete Works of Artemus Ward (New York: G. W. 
Dillingham, 1887), 63. Ward, the "dean of American humorists," was only super- 
ficially funny, relying too much on unnatural dialect and typographical oddities. 
Twain, on the other hand, was deeply and seriously humorous. Had Ward not died 
at the early age of thirty-three he might have developed his humor more fully. 

49. Ward's ticket was a burlesque, but there were similar announcements in 
Utah which were real. "Tickets: $5.00 per couple, and $1.00 for each Additional 
Lady." Deseret News, July 10, 1867. 


50. Ward, Complete Works, 282-84. 

51. Ludlow, The Heart of the Continent, 342. 

52. Ibid., 509. While General William B. Hazen was in Utah in 1866 to de- 
termine whether a larger military force was needed in the territory to protect the 
people from the Indians, he concluded that the Saints were "probably the most law 
abiding people on the continent" and that Heber was an "able and indefatigable" 
man. Daily Union Vedette, Apr. 8, 1867. 

53. Elizabeth Wells Randall Cumming to her sister Sarah, Great Salt Lake 
City, June 17, 1858, as cited in Mulder and Mortensen, Among the Mormons, 

54. Journal of Discourses, vol. 1 (Apr. 6, 1853), 133, vol. 5 (Apr. 30, 1857), 


The Last Years 

During Heber's last four years the church and Utah continued to grow and 
develop, but his greatest contributions to Kingdom-building were behind 
him. This period in his life is very sketchily documented. It appears that he 
was often ill, that he traveled and spoke less, that he spent much time with 
Vilate in her parlor by a maplewood fire, "occasionally looking at . . . 
Shadows" (silhouettes) of his absent children, and was saddened by cer- 
tain events beyond his control. 1 

We may assume that he was involved with such important develop- 
ments as the reorganization of the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) mission, the 
organization of the Netherlands mission, the organization of the four new 
stakes which were established within a year of his death, bringing the total 
to eight, the completion of the great Tabernacle, the revitalization of the 
Sunday School and the Relief Society, and the calling of hundreds of mis- 
sionaries. He also remained in charge of the Endowment House. 

Thousands were brought to Utah by great church ox-team trains and 
the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company, and the Kingdom was expanded 
by thirty new colonies on Utah's borders and in Idaho and Nevada. Eco- 
nomic self-sufficiency, always one of Heber's deep concerns, moved for- 
ward. Within a year of his death the Zion's Cooperative Mercantile In- 
stitution (ZCM1) was in operation. 

By 1865 Heber had devoted seventeen years in Utah building the 
Kingdom until it was so strong that it could withstand all efforts to topple 
it. He had participated fully in meeting two great challenges to the King- 
dom in Utah: nature and the military. The Mormons had not only tamed 
part of the desert and withstood the U.S. Army, but had blunted most 
other attacks emanating from Washington. 

Heber was also to be involved until his death (although few specifics 
about his activities have been preserved) in the third great crisis facing the 
church in Utah during his lifetime — a crisis so severe that by 1869 Con- 



gress seriously considered completely dismembering Utah by giving parts 
of it to adjoining territories. Between 1861 and 1868 Utah Territory had 
already been whittled down to one third its original size. When organized 
in 1850 it had extended from the California line on the west to the Colo- 
rado Rockies on the east with north and south borders much as they are 
today. In 1861, 1862, and 1866 Nevada Territory was created and en- 
larged, and in 1868 the northeast section of Utah was given to Wyoming, 
making that territory a rectangle and giving Utah its distinctive shape. 

Meanwhile the good feelings between the Mormons and the Gentiles 
immediately following the Civil War deteriorated. The unexplained mur- 
ders of two Gentiles in 1866 precipitated the new crisis. The first was in 
April, when S. Newton Brassfield, a Nevada freighter who had induced a 
plural wife to leave her absent husband and marry him, was murdered. 
Brassfield's assassin was never apprehended, but many chose to believe the 
Mormons as a group were responsible. The following October Dr. J. King 
Robinson was beaten to death by an unknown assailant. The motive for 
this crime was never determined, but many believed Mormons had killed 
him because he had tried to take from the city an important piece of muni- 
cipal property, the Warm Springs. Rumors spread alleging Mormon intim- 
idation, and all the old tensions between Mormons and Gentiles reasserted 
themselves. The political and economic crusade against the church con- 
tinued, this time backed by a new element, other religious denominations. 
"It was as though," Andrew Neff has noted, "the thread of controversy 
had been picked up where it had been dropped when the Saints abandoned 
the field in Nauvoo." 2 

During the mid-i86os two new antipolygamy bills were introduced 
into Congress. The Wade bill of 1866, aimed at the destruction of local 
self-government, and the Cragin bill of 1867 were harsher still. Although 
neither was enacted into law, they caused much trouble for the church, 
working against the domestic tranquillity of Heber and many others and 
giving Utah Gentiles ammunition to use against the church. Of the legisla- 
tion to eliminate the "twin relic of barbarism" Heber said, "Plurality is a 
law which God established for his elect before the world was formed, for a 
continuation of seeds forever. It would be as easy for the United States to 
build a tower to remove the sun as to remove polygamy, or the Church and 
Kingdom of God." 3 

In mid- 1 865 General Connor started anew his negative comments on 
the Mormon scene. The Vedette began relatively mildly. In June, according 
to the Vedette (the sermon is otherwise unrecorded), Heber told the "sis- 
ters how they ought to form hymeneal unions to advantageously fulfill 
their chief aim in life, to wit — 'breed the biggest children/ That they 

The Last Years 2.91 

should 'sour' on their custom of smallest women marrying husky hus- 
bands. . . ." Connor's paper called this a harangue "of unusually heavy 

The following September, when Heber was in Tooele, he apparently 
preached one of his old-style sermons. According to the Vedette (again in 
an otherwise unrecorded and unverified sermon) Heber asserted, "The 
Gentiles are our enemies; they are damned forever; they are thieves and 
murderers, and if they don't like what I say they can go to hell, damn 
themr Connor, understandably, considered this treason. Whatever good 
feelings he may have had toward the church faded. 

In November the Vedette gave full play to Albert D. Richardson's in- 
tensely critical view of the Mormons which he published in the New York 
Tribune and which featured a full Kimball sermon (a likewise unrecorded 
and unverified one of September 2.7, 1865). In December the Vedette also 
featured Samuel Bowles's criticism of the Mormons and Heber, which 
Bowles printed in the Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican. Connor's 
animus toward Heber became such that when he could find nothing cur- 
rent to criticize him for, he again ransacked some of Heber's strong ser- 
mons of 1857. Heber's reference to polygamy in heaven was ridiculed as 
"Heaven a Harem"; his innocuous remark that, when he had on occasion 
blessed his handkerchief, cane, or cloak and sent them to the sick and the 
sick had recovered, was seized upon and blown up to "blasphemous ar- 
rogance," "infamous pretension," a "most odious doctrine," and an act of 
"criminal design." 

At the rime of the Brassfield murder Connor printed a scurrilous 
rumor that while Heber was officiating in the Endowment House he was 
so smitten by a young lady he was supposed to seal in marriage to another 
man that he dismissed the groom and married her himself. 

Not all the troubles of Heber's last years were caused by his family 
and the Gentiles. The Black Hawk Indian War broke out in 1865 and 
raged until 1868, taking the lives of between 100 and 150 whites and Indi- 
ans and the abandonment of twenty-five settlements in central and south- 
ern Utah. Also greatly affecting Heber's happiness were some acts by sev- 
eral churchmen which he construed to be an attempt to ease him out of the 
First Presidency and his position as successor to President Young. This sit- 
uation, which may have existed only in his own mind, seems to have repre- 
sented, for Heber, a final trial of his Job-like faith. In the cause of his faith 
he had suffered much and long and had every right to expect that his last 
years would be ones of consummation and harvest. For some reason he felt 
this was denied him. He lived long enough to endure what he considered 


to be a maneuvering to reduce his influence, and he realized a sense of in- 
adequacy. After more than thirty years of total devotion and dedication to 
the Restoration he felt himself bypassed, a champion of an outdated man- 
ner of Kingdom-building. Heber and the rough, impetuous Galilean Peter 
were somewhat alike. Both had been essential in the beginning of the 
movements to which they devoted their lives, but both lived to be over- 
shadowed by better-educated Pauline types. It was not for Heber to stand 
before Agrippa or to preach on Mars' Hill. 

What offended Heber may have been simply carelessness or thought- 
lessness. It is also possible, given the realities of the all-out crusade against 
the Mormons, especially the anti-polygamous bills, that some church 
leaders actually were trying to neutralize Heber's abrasiveness by bringing 
into his place someone more diplomatic and adept at negotiating with 
Gentiles and by arranging for Heber not to succeed Brigham Young as 
President of the church. 

The 1 8 50s have been called by Mormon historian Charles Peterson 
an era of Mormon nationalism, characterized by militant rhetoric and a 
strain of uncompromising independence, an attitude well exemplified by 
Heber. By the 1860s, however, it became clear that this stance was coun- 
terproductive, and most church leaders became more practical and concil- 
iatory toward Washington and the Gentiles. In any event, as is often the 
case, what a person thinks to be true is as painful as if it were true. 

With all of his humor and saltiness, Heber was an unusually sensitive 
man — it was part of his sincere nature. He was almost always kind, even- 
tempered, and humble, and ordinarily did not respond publicly to slights. 
Years earlier in Nauvoo he had been refused credit for some merchandise 
and "went home and cried like a child." 4 At another time, after his second 
British mission, he "felt he was treated rather cooly and went home and 
wept." 5 Once, in 1846, when Parley Pratt and John Taylor asked the 
Quorum of the Twelve not to let Heber speak publicly "for he was so sim- 
ple," and treated him as if "he was not a man of sense," Heber kept his 
peace. 6 But sometimes he could not keep his hurt feelings to himself. 

By the mid-iSjos he was becoming defensive and cantankerous — de- 
fensive because of his lack of education and sophistication, cantankerous 
because of age, illness, and disappointment. He had been at his best as a 
missionary and Pioneer. As the Kingdom grew and matured he must have 
realized that he was becoming increasingly anachronistic and incapable of 
making the significant contributions he had made in its early days. 

In 1854 he announced in the territorial legislature, "I want to speak 
and not be here like a Dumb Dog. I am ignorant of many technicalities, 
but when you come to the truth I know that as well as Professor [Albert] 

The Last Years 293 

Carrington, Professor [Orson] Pratt, Professor [George A.] Smith, or Pro- 
fessor [Wilford] Woodruff." 7 This statement has been used to suggest that 
he took political life seriously; but it is possible to read more into it. Car- 
rington, Pratt, Smith, and Woodruff were all better educated than Heber 
and his unnecessary use of the title "Professor" before each of their names 
seems sarcastic, reflecting his suspicion that they looked down on his lack 
of education. 

Admittedly this is only supposition, but there is further supportive ev- 
idence. Although, as already noted, Fanny Stenhouse was not an unbiased 
commentator on the Mormon scene, there is no particular reason to dis- 
count totally her views on Heber vis-a-vis the educated. She claimed that, 
although "naturally Heber was a kind-hearted man," he sometimes poked 
fun at people who pretended to be educated. According to her account 
Heber once said, "Here are some edicated men jest under my nose. They 
come here and they think they know more than I do, and then they git the 
big head, and it swells and swells until it gits like the old woman's squash 
— you go to touch it and it goes ker-smash; and when you look for the 
man, why he aint thar. They're jest like so many pots in a furnace — yer 
know I've been a potter in my time — almighty thin and almighty big and 
when they're sot up the heat makes 'em smoke a little, and then they col- 
lapse and tumble in, and they aint no whar." 8 

On one occasion in 1856, when Heber was in the Deseret (tithing) 
Store, he concluded that A. P. Rockwood had not properly noticed or 
greeted him. Heber was offended and reportedly said, "As I pass you by 1 
cannot even get your eye. You do not speak to me. You are as dry as an old 
Cabbage leaf wilted up. You have not the spirit of God and you have tried 
to ride me for years and if you do not wake up and do your duty I will ride 
you and that too with Sharp spurs." 9 

In i860 Heber publicly said, "You need not try to step in between me 
and my President, for you cannot do it without hurting yourselves. . . . 
My name is Faithful — my name is Integrity!" 10 This is a surprisingly de- 
fensive statement from one who had been a member of the First Presidency 
since 1847. Also in i860 Heber confided in Wilford Woodruff that "Many 
. . . [who] occupy high positions in the Church . . . feel as though the 
whole Church depends upon them and such think as to Brother Heber, He 
is of no account, he has been a good man in his day, but his usefulness is 
about over, he is like an old horse that has lost his teeth and it is time to 
turn him out to grass. . . ." He went on to add that he had to "carry 
around many people by the ass of their Breeches that want to trample 
upon me, but I shall live to see the ass of their Breeches come off and they 
will go down while 1 shall rise." 11 


During 1864 Brigham Young ordained three of his sons, John Wil- 
lard, Joseph Angell, and Brigham, Jr., as Apostles, giving some credence to 
the supposition that Young wished a son, not Heber, to succeed him. Later 
that year, in August, Young conferred upon Brigham, Jr., "all the power 1 
hold as one of my counselors." 12 This seemed further to suggest that Brig- 
ham, Jr., was becoming the heir apparent to the Presidency. Reinforcing 
this supposition was the opinion of the Utah correspondent of the Neiv 
York Times y who reported (immediately following Heber's death): 

The Young dynasty, however, has been strengthening itself of late 
years, in such a way as to indicate very plainly that it did not mean to 
permit the supreme power to pass out of its own ranks. . . . 

As regards his [Brigham Young's] own successor his designation 
would be unquestionable and final, and as regards his purpose of con- 
fining the succession within his own family there was a good deal 
known before the death of Kimball [italics added]. Until very recently 
it was believed his eldest son was meant for the leadership when it 
became vacant, but, for some reason unknown outside of the wall 
that incloses his headquarters, this individual is understood to have 
been set aside in favor of another member of the dynasty, Brigham 
Young, Jr., who is pronounced to be possessed of the peculiar talents 
required in the head of the Mormon Church and State. 

Heber was not told of these 1864 ordinations for four months and 
was terribly offended when he did learn of them. n He told a son that "the 
power of the Priesthood" placed on the head of John W. Young "would 
not stick" and that Apostle "George Q. Cannon was among those who 
were trying to get between him and President Young. . . ." 14 Whatever 
Brigham Young meant by these acts of 1864, the shadow of dynastic pre- 
tensions which they cast mortally offended his First Counselor, his most 
loyal of all followers, and his friend of more than thirty years. Research to 
date has failed to turn up any comment by Brigham Young regarding the 
matters which so perplexed and hurt his longtime friend and counselor. 
He apparently made no effort to explain or excuse himself to Heber. 

Again, in September, 1864, the Deseret News, whose editor was the 
same Albert Carrington who had already (in 1861) indirectly criticized 
Heber's language, printed an editorial rebuking members of the commu- 
nity who "resorted to swearing and obscenity in language." It is doubtful 
that this was directed at Heber, but the Vedette of September 28 gleefully 
insisted that it was, and labeled it an official rebuke of Heber by his own 
people. In anguish Heber appealed to his God. "In the evening of January 
12, 1865," he confided in a private memorandum book, "I was told by the 
Lord that I should not be removed from my place as first counselor to Pres- 

The Last Years 295 

ident Young, and those who had oppressed me when it was in their power 
to do me good, shall be removed from their places. That Daniel H. Wells, 
Albert Carrington, Jos. A. Young and others were among that number." ' 
In 1866 Brigham Young again bypassed his First Counselor. He or- 
dained Joseph F. Smith (one of Hcber's foster sons) an Apostle and set him 
apart as a counselor in the First Presidency. Heber was not consulted, pres- 
ent at the ordination, or officially told of it until some time later. 16 Al- 
though he never was supplanted as First Counselor, Heber must have felt 
insecure in his position in the Kingdom. "Those were days of sorrow for 
father," a son wrote, "and he became so heart broken towards the last that 
he prayed to the Lord to shorten his days." 17 Whatever the reality of 
Heber's fears and suspicions, he remained loyal to the last. There is no 
recorded work of his in criticism of Brigham; Heber chose to place the 
blame for his sorrow on others. 

The greatest sorrow of his life, however, was the death the following 
year of Vilate, his companion of forty-five years. Vilate had led an incredi- 
bly difficult life and her sufferings undermined her health. In 1864 one son 
tactlessly wrote her, "Yours and father's photographs came safe. Father 
looks well, but 1 never saw any change as you have. You look poor, care- 
worn, and nearly gray." 18 Toward the end she failed rapidly. When she 
died at age sixty-one on October 22., 1867, it was recorded that "she had 
been out of her mind for many months." 19 Her death took away much of 
Heber's zest for life. 

In April, five months after Vilate's death, he preached his last record- 
ed sermon in Bountiful, As he looked out over his co-religionists his hurts 
began to show. He became unusually, unnaturally somber. He seemed de- 
fensive and exceptionally critical. Never before had he begun a sermon by 
saying, "I have not the least disposition to talk to you if you do not wish 
me to, and if you say you do not want me, I will say good morning and go 
home." He continued, "It is difficult for many here even to hold my name 
sacred; and when I have heard of what some men here would do, I have 
asked myself what manner of men they were. . . . Do you doubt that I am 
one of the Lord's anointed. . . ? Some of you would like me to present the 
truth clothed in a fine dress and with hoops rather than that I should pre- 
sent it stark naked; but I speak this for your good. . . . The office of an 
apostle is to tell the truth, to tell what he knows." 

He advised the people to behave themselves, to read the Bible and the 
Book of Mormon. He accused them of sitting in judgment on their neigh- 
bors. He urged a reformation in Bountiful, for some of its residents were 
not honest, would not pray unless seen by others, and "if some of you were 


going to my mill here, and should find a chain, you would look around to 
see if any person saw you, and if not, you would hide the chain at once. 
. . . There are many here today who, unless they repent, will never see my 
face again after my eyes are closed in death." 

He paused, then in a strange afterthought announced, "I am inclined 
to think that pig meat is not good, and that fine flour is not good, and the 
finer the flour we eat the shorter will be our lives. It would be better for us 
to eat coarse bread, such as the Graham bread." Another pause, then he 
gave what he may have felt was, and was indeed, a final benediction. "I 
now feel to say peace be with you, peace rest upon you, and 1 say my peace 
shall rest upon you. Amen." 20 With that Heber slowly and heavily took his 

Six weeks later, eight months from the day Vilate died, Heber was 
dead. In late May, 1868, he had traveled to Provo to visit a wife, Lucy 
Walker, who lived there. 21 Arriving after dark, and forgetting that he had 
instructed one of his sons to deepen a ditch near his home, he drove his 
horse into the excavation. The animal's lunging threw him violently to the 
earth, where he lay for some time before being found. After A. F. Mc- 
Donald, a local Saint, found him, he suggested sending for Brigham 
Young, who was then in Provo, to administer to him. Heber declined, say- 
ing, "I command you to administer to me and anoint me with oil in the 
name of the Lord; do not be in the least afraid; you hold the same Priest- 
hood and authority from God as President Young or myself, and God 
hears and answers the prayers of His humblest servants and people." 22 In 
the "household of faith" it is considered a lack of faith to prefer one good 
man's administrations over another's; Heber was making this point. 

He quickly revived, did not appear to be seriously injured, and was 
soon well enough to return to Salt Lake City, where for a while he seemed 
to recover, attending services and speaking in the Tabernacle on June 7." 
But on June n he suffered a paralytic stroke and began to fail rapidly. 
Facing for the first time the immanence of death, Heber called to his bed- 
side Lucy Walker, who had married Joseph Smith about a year before his 
martyrdom. Heber told her he had appreciated her example as a wife and 
mother of nine of his children, that none had excelled her in home life, and 
thanked her for every kind word and act. Then, concerned about how well 
he had treated a wife of Joseph's and about the fact that he would soon be 
seeing Joseph, he weakly squeezed her hand and asked plaintively, "What 
can you tell Joseph when you meet him? Cannot you say that I have been 
kind to you as it was possible to be under the circumstances?" 24 (Early 
Mormons seem to have been as concerned about meeting Joseph Smith 
after death as about meeting their Maker.) Heber may have called other 

The Last Years 297 

widows of Joseph to him, for of the nine whom Heber had married, five — 
Lucy, Presendia Huntington, Martha McBride, Sarah Ann Whitney, and 
Mary Houston — were still alive and married to him in 1868. The other 
four had separated from him for various reasons. No records exist, how- 
ever, of any parting words to anyone else. Perhaps he did not have the 
time, for after June 12 he was able to utter only an occasional sentence. 

By June 21 Heber was in great pain. He requested President Young 
and members of the Quorum of the Twelve to administer to him, and that 
much relieved him. That evening he rallied, opened his eyes, and for some 
time was conscious and appeared to recognize those who stood around 
him. The next day, Monday, in his hot upstairs bedroom surrounded by 
family and church authorities, and with Brigham Young sitting on the 
edge of the bed fanning him with his right hand, Heber C. Kimball lapsed 
into unconsciousness, and gradually passed away without a contortion of 
countenance or the slightest movement of limb. It appears likely that 
Heber died of a subdural hematoma. When he was thrown to the still- 
frozen earth by the lunging horse, the blow to the head had jarred the 
brain violently, tearing blood vessels and producing blood clotting and pa- 
ralysis. Medically, only a surgical operation to open the skull could have 
saved his life, and such operations were not performed in his day. 25 

As Heber died, those present were aware of the absence of gloom and 
despair. One called it a "scene of victory and triumph." Another found his 
death calm and peaceful, and reflected on the joyous time when Heber 
would be reunited in the spirit world with David Patten, Willard Richards, 
Jedediah Grant, Parley Pratt, and "the thousands of others who have gone 
before, and like them have been faithful." Brigham Young was thinking 
that he did not feel one particle of the spirit of death and, because of all 
Heber had done in life, that his "death was far better to him than the day 
of his birth." 26 Such sentiments are typical of the Mormon thanatopsis. To 
the "righteous" death is positive, a step up, a return. The personality re- 
mains intact, reunions are real, families remain together, and a rejoining of 
body and spirit in the resurrection is awaited. 

The day of the funeral, Wednesday, June 24, was observed throughout 
Utah Territory as an official day of mourning. Though the rain fell, the 
new Tabernacle, draped in black, was packed with more than 8,000 be- 
reaved Saints, the largest funeral ever held in the territory. Twelve men 
bore the coffin from the Kimball home to the Tabernacle, accompanied by 
many of the First Presidency and Quorum and a band playing the unusual- 
ly poignant "Dead March" from Handel's oratorio Saul. 

The cortege proceeded south on North Main Street, west on North 


Temple Street, south on West Temple Street to the west gate of Temple 
Square, and finally entered the Tabernacle from the north. The closed cof- 
fin, covered with silver-trimmed black velvet, was deposited upon a draped 
bier surrounded with seven elegant vases of roses and other flowers. Presi- 
dent Young called the meeting to order and the choir sang a new hymn 
written for the occasion by Eliza R. Snow: 

Be cheer'd O Zion — cease to weep: 

Heber we deeply loved: 
He is not dead — he does not sleep — 

He lives with those above 

His flesh was weary: let it rest 

Entombed in mother Earth, 
Till Jesus comes — when all the bless'd 

To life will be brought forth. 

Let wives and children humbly kiss 

The deep afflicting rod: 
A Father to the fatherless, 

God is the widow's God. 

Apostle George Q. Cannon offered the opening prayer. 

John Taylor, George A. Smith, and Daniel H. Wells eulogized Heber's 
life, devotion to the church, and missionary work. President Young ended 
his remarks by saying: 

I will relate to you my feelings concerning the departure of Bro. 
Kimball. He was a man of as much integrity I presume as any man 
who ever lived on the earth. I have been personally acquainted with 
him forty-three years and I can testify that he has been a man of truth, 
a man of benevolence, a man that was to be trusted. Now he has gone 
and left us. . . . 

For this family to mourn is perhaps natural; but they have not 
really the first cause to do so. How would you feel if you had a hus- 
band or a father that would lead you from the truth? I would to God 
that we would all follow him in his example in our faithfulness, and 
be as faithful as he was in his life. To his wives, his children, his 
friends, his brethren and sisters, to this family whom God has selected 
from the human family to be his sons and daughters, I say let us fol- 
low his example. He has gone to rest. We can say of him all that can 
be said of any good man. The Lord selected him and he has been 
faithful and this has made him a great man. . . . We pay our last re- 
spects unto Brother Kimball. 27 

The Last Years 299 

Afterward the band played the "Doxology" and the choir sang "O 
My Father," a favorite Mormon funeral hymn. Bishop Edwin D. Woolley 
offered the benediction, and a procession, with the band playing the 
''Belgian Dead March," accompanied the coffin to the family cemetery on 
Heber's property, where he was buried next to Vilate. 28 He was survived by 
at least twenty-one wives and forty-one children, most of whom lived in or 
near Salt Lake City. 

Some eastern newspapers paid Heber high tribute. On June 25 the 
Omaha Daily Herald noted that "since Mr. Kimball had been one of the 
principal and leading men of the Mormon faith, nearly since its organiza- 
tion, an extended notice may not be without interest to the general read- 
er," and then printed a biographical sketch. It observed that Heber "was 
probably the most popular man in the community with Jews, Gentiles and 
Mormons" and that "his death is probably the greatest affliction to the 
people of Utah since the death of their first Prophet, Joseph Smith." 

On the same day the New York Times commented, "The Mormons, 
by the death of Heber Kimball, have lost their most prominent man next 
to Brigham Young. He illustrated in himself all the more striking pecu- 
liarities of the Mormon leaders — their energy and astuteness, their self- 
sacrifice and selfishness [selflessness?], their devotion to the Church and 
their power over its devotees ... in every way he was fitted, and fitted him- 
self, for his destined position as Young's successor." 

As the New York Times suggests, Heber's life did demonstrate fully 
the weaknesses and strengths, if not of the faith, then of the flock. His life 
illustrates an authoritarianism, paternalism, lack of sophistication and 
professionalism, and the subordinate role of meditation and contempla- 
tion seen often in Mormon life. But he was a larger-than-life Mormon 
with a deep personal testimony of and commitment to the Restoration, an 
example of self-sacrificing devotion to building the Kingdom and promul- 
gating the message. He was the archetypical missionary and polygamist. 
He represented integrity, faithfulness, simplicity, fearlessness, and dyna- 
mism at its best. Without strong pioneering leaders like Heber, a despised 
faith and people would not have been able to make the Mormon Kingdom 
flower in the wilderness. 


1. H. C. Kimball to David, Charles, and Brigham Kimball, Nov. 20, 1864, 
H. C. Kimball Papers, Church Archives. 


2. Andrew Love Neff, History of Utah: 184-7-1869, ed. Leland Hargrave 
Creer (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1940), 865. 

3. H. C. Kimball to David, Charles, and Brigham Kimball, Jan. 28, 1866, 
H. C. Kimball Papers, Church Archives. 

4. Historian's Office Journal, Jan. 2, i860, Church Archives. 

5. Wilford Woodruff Journal, Feb. 23, 1859, Church Archives. 

6. Brigham Young Papers, Council Minutes, Nov. 16, 1846, Church Ar- 

7. Historian's Office Journal, Dec. 20, 1854, Church Archives. 

8. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 388. 

9. Wilford Woodruff Journal, Oct. 3, 1856, Church Archives. 

10. Journal of Discourses, vol. 8 (June 3, i860), 276. 

11. Wilford Woodruff, Historian's Private Journal, Mar. 14, i860, Church 

1 2. Manuscript History of Brigham Young, Apr. 24, 1864. Church Archives. 

13. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints, 66}. 

14. Solomon F. Kimball, "Sacred History," typescript, 2, Church Archives. 

15. Private Memorandum Book, Jan. 12, 1865, H. C. Kimball Papers, 
Church Archives. 

16. Joseph Fielding Smith, Life of Joseph F. Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret 
News Press, 1938), 227. 

17. Solomon F. Kimball, "Sacred History," typescript, 2, Church Archives. 

18. David Kimball to Vilate Kimball, June 15, 1864. Original in possession 
of Spencer W Kimball. Used by permission. 

19. Historian's Office Journal, Oct. 22, 1867, Church Archives. I wish to 
thank Maureen U. Beecher for drawing this to my attention. There is a family story 
about Vilate's death which refers to evil spirits, a typical explanation at that time 
for mental disorders: 

"When she first fell sick, on going into her room to administer to her, he 
[Heber] saw, standing at the head of her bed, an evil spirit, a female. Kneeling 
down he prayed, and then rebuked the apparition in the name of Jesus. It disap- 
peared, but soon returned with a host of fallen beings. 

"He then called in several other Elders, and unitedly they rebuked the evil 
spirits, when they departed, and he saw them no more at that time. 

"Thus, he struggled on, hoping and praying to the end that she might be 
spared. Sometimes, in his yearning for the continuance of their companionship 
here a while longer, it seemed as though he would prevail with the Lord. But the 
last hope of this at length faded, the end came and he bowed in resignation to the 
inevitable." O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 472-73. 

20. Journal of Discourses, vol. 12 (Apr. 29, 1868), 188-89. 

21. A search in the Utah County Courthouse has failed to reveal exactly 
where the house stood. There is some evidence, however, for placing it near the 
northeast corner of the intersection of University Avenue and First North Street. 

The Last Years 301 

Officially Heber was in Provo to organize the School of the Prophets, sort of an 
adult education program. 

22. O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber G Kimball, 448. 

23. There was a brief mention of this sermon in the Deseret News of June 
10, 1868. "President H. C. Kimball spoke at some length on the power and order 
of the Priesthood, instructing the congregation upon various things connected 
therewith. He pointed out the blessings flowing from obedience to the authority 
which the Lord has conferred upon His servants on the earth; and the evil results 
which follow disobedience and rebellion; for the Lord governs and rules in all 
worlds, and we cannot, if we would, get to any place where His power is not." This 
sounds like the old Heber preaching. Evidently he had recovered from whatever 
was bothering him in Bountiful, or perhaps he felt death near and wanted once 
more to reiterate his standard message of obedience. 

24. "Statement of Mrs. L. W. Kimball," n.d., typescript, p. 7, Lucy Walker 
Kimball Papers, Church Archives. 

25. Following a stroke in 1979, Heber's grandson Spencer W Kimball, the 
eighty-four-year-old President of the Mormon Church, subsequently underwent 
surgery twice to drain a subdural hematoma. 

26. Deseret News, June 24, 1868. 

27. Ibid. 

28. In this graveyard thirty-two Kimballs, thirteen Whitneys, and eleven 
friends were eventually buried: a total of fifty-six. Of Heber's forty-three wives, 
seven were buried here: Vilate, Sarah Peak, Laura Pitkin, Sarah Ann Whitney, Ann 
Gheen, Theresa Morley, and Ellen Sanders. Two Indian women, Kate and Mobie 
Vance, were also interred here. Since that time many individuals have been re- 
buried elsewhere. 


After Heber's death his family broke up and scattered. "None of his sons 
had trades," his first biographer wrote. "Realizing that city life was no 
longer their lot, they resolved to separate . . . but few remaining in the city 
of their birth, and, at the expiration of fifteen years, many had become 
almost strangers to each other." ' A son recalled, "When I was fifteen years 
old, our father passed away, and we were left, as many children are left, to 
wander and fight our battles as best we could." 2 

William remained at his ranch at Parley's Park, south and east of Salt 
Lake City; Abraham was in southern Utah; Solomon went to Arizona; and 
eleven sons, including Jonathan Golden, Elias, Isaac, and David Patton, 
went to the Bear Lake country on the Utah-Idaho border; others went to 
California. Among the few who remained in Salt Lake City, Heber Parley 
occupied the big house on North Main Street. Heber C. Kimball's younger 
children remained with their mothers. 

It would appear that most of Heber's thirteen inheriting wives re- 
mained in Salt Lake City, living in the big house and others throughout the 
city. Various Salt Lake City directories list them into the early years of the 
twentieth century. 

In 1887 the Kimball family began to reunite. One of their number, 
Solomon, returning to Salt Lake City from Arizona in 1886, was dismayed 
with the lack of family unity and the "disgraceful" condition of the family 
cemetery, where his father and fifty-five other members of the family were 
interred. Solomon called a family meeting at the old cemetery on the Kim- 
ball block and several decisions were made: to organize a Family Associa- 
tion, to do genealogy work, to fence and landscape the cemetery and erect 
thereon a suitable monument, and to appoint a Committee on Reunion to 
plan a family gathering in Salt Lake City for June 14, 1887, the eighty- 
sixth anniversary of Heber's birth. 

About 300 attended that reunion, including nineteen sons, six daugh- 


304 Epilogue 

ters, and several widows. Buoyed up with their success, the family orga- 
nized, appointed a five-man Committee on Publication, which set aside 
several thousand dollars of undivided estate property for the cemetery 
project, and engaged a grandson, Orson F. Whitney, a son of Helen, to 
prepare Heber's biography, which was published the following year. This 
family organization still has annual reunions, at which strawberry short- 
cake, "grandfather's favorite dessert," is invariably served. 


1. O. F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, xi-xii. 

2. Richards,/. Golden Kimball, 275. 



The standard source regarding the number and names of Kimball's wives and chil- 
dren is Orson F. Whitney, The Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: The Kim- 
ball Family, 1888), pp. 430-36. Whitney, a grandson of Heber, made his compila- 
tion when many of Heber's wives and children were still alive and it therefore 
should be accurate and complete. He lists forty-five wives and sixty-five children. 
He does seem to have made two mistakes: he listed Sarah Buckwalter and Sarah 
Schuler as two individuals, which they were not, and he counted Martha McBride 
and Martha Knight as two, which they were not. Sarah's first husband was John 
Buckwalter. Her full name should be Sarah Schuler Buckwalter Kimball. Martha's 
first husband was Vinson Knight and her second was Joseph Smith. Her full name 
should be Martha McBride Knight Smith Kimball. Kimball, therefore, had or was 
sealed to forty-three wives, not forty-five. It should also be remembered that many 
of these "wives" were not connubial; they were "wards" whom Heber agreed to 
support and protect. He had children by seventeen of his wives. 

Kimball married between 1822 and 1857 and sired children (including two 
sets of twins) between 1823 and 1868. He had forty-five sons (sixteen named 
Heber) and twenty daughters. He married five sets of sisters. (Some Mormons 
hoped sororal polygamy would lead to greater domestic harmony.) Fourteen of his 
wives had been married previously. At the time of marriage, nine of his wives were 
in their teens, seventeen in their twenties, five in their thirties, nine in their forties, 
and three in their fifties. Sixteen wives separated from him during his lifetime for 
various reasons, but none of his widows remarried after his death. Forty-one chil- 
dren and at least twenty-one wives survived him. His wives were generally long- 
lived — thirty lived to be over sixty, fifteen over seventy, seven over eighty, and one 
lived to be ninety-two. The last survivor among his children, Rosalia, died in 1950. 
This listing is as complete and accurate as a study of temple, endowment house, 
patriarchal blessing, family genealogical, and cemetery records — as well as obitu- 
aries, memoirs, journals, autobiographies, and biographies — can make it. Since 
many variant dates, places, and spellings are found in the sources, however, the 
vital statistics of Heber's family may never be known with complete accuracy. 

1. Hulda Barnes, born Oct. 1, 1806, New Ashford, Berkshire County, Mas- 
sachusetts, parents unknown, died Sept. 2, 1898, Holden, Utah. Married and 
sealed to HCK Feb. 3, 1846. No children. Apparently came to Utah in 1853. 


308 Appendix A 

2. Abigail Buchanan, born Jan. 9, 1802, Waltham, Middlesex County, Mas- 
sachusetts, parents and date and place of death unknown. Married and sealed to 
HCK Feb. 7, 1846. No children. 

3. Charlotte Chase, born May n, 1825, Bristol, Addison County, Vermont, 
daughter of Ezra and Tirzah Wells Chase, died Dec. 15, 1904, Lewisville, Idaho. 
Married HCK Oct. 10, 1844, sealed to HCK Feb. 7, 1846. No children by HCK. 
Separated from HCK in 1849, married Thaddeus C. Hix (or Hicks) in California, 
Dec. 13, 1850, by whom she had six children. After his death in 1868 married 
William W. Dixson ot Harnsville, Utah, in 1869, whom she divorced in 1876 and 
then married Dr. Tyrus Hurd of Ogden, Utah. 

4. Clarissa Cutler, born Dec. 23, 1824, Silver Creek, Chautauqua County, 
New York, daughter of Alpheus and Lois Lathrop Cutler, died 1 8 5 2 in Kansas Ter- 
ritory, on the Grasshopper River near present-day Thompsonville, Jefferson Coun- 
ty, Kansas. Married HCK Feb. 29, 1845, sealed to HCK Feb. 2, 1846. One child by 
HCK: Abraham Alonzo Kimball, Apr. 16, 1846-Sept. 25, 1889. Separated from 
HCK in 1848, married Calvin Fletcher in 1849 and had one daughter, Mary Al- 
zina Fletcher, born Mar. 12, 1850, Silver Creek, Mills County, Iowa, died Feb. 14, 
1859, Manti, Iowa. Abraham entered polygamy taking three wives, Mary Eliza 
Hatton Wilcox, Lucy Adell Brown, and Laura Moody. He had fourteen children 
by the first two. (The author is a descendant of this wife.) 

5. Emily Trask Cutler, born Feb. 23, 1828, Hanover, Chautauqua County, 
New York, daughter of Alpheus and Lois Lathrop Cutler, died 1 852 in Kansas Ter- 
ritory, on the Grasshopper River near present-day Thompsonville, Jefferson Coun- 
ty, Kansas. Married HCK during Dec, 1845, sealed to HCK Feb. 2, 1846. One 
child by HCK: Isaac Kimball, Oct. 13, 1846-June 24, 1914. Separated from HCK 
in 1848, married Franklin Pratt in 1849, and had one daughter, Emily Miranda 
Pratt, born Mar. 15, 1852, on the Grasshopper River in present-day Jefferson 
County, Kansas. 

6. Elizabeth Doty (Cravath, Murray, Brown), born Apr. 29, 1808, Fairfield, 
Herkimer County, New York, daughter of Ira and Betsy Murray Doty, died Jan. 
21, 1889, Kamas, Utah. Married HCK for time only Apr. 11, 1856. No children 
by HCK. She bore her first husband, Austin Cravath, four children. He died in 
1844 and she was sealed to him for eternity the same day she married HCK for 
time. In 1846 she married William Murray. In 1848, after his death, she married 
Alfred Brown and bore him one son, who died the same year. She is usually re- 
ferred to as Elizabeth Cravath in the sources. 

7. Mary Dull (Duell), born Nov. 23, 1807, Quinard Township, Montgom- 
ery County, Pennsylvania, daughter of Christian and Elizabeth Dull (Duell), date 
and place of death unknown. Sealed to HCK May 21, 1848. No children. 

8. Mary Fielding (Smith), born July 21, 1801, Honidon, Bedfordshire, En- 
gland, daughter of John and Rachel Ibbotson Fielding, died Sept. 21, 1852, Salt 

Appendix A 309 

Lake City. Married HCK Sept. 14, 1844, sealed in the Nauvoo temple for time to 
HCK Jan. 15, 1846. No children by HCK. Married her first husband, Hyrum 
Smith, brother of Joseph Smith, Dec. 24, 1837, and bore two children. Also moth- 
ered the four surviving children of the six Hyrum had by his first wife. Hyrum was 
assassinated with his brother June 27, 1844, at Carthage, Illinois. Her son Joseph 
F. Smith became the sixth President of the Mormon Church; her grandson Joseph 
Fielding Smith became the tenth. HCK preached her funeral sermon, Journal of 
Discourses, vol. 8, (Sept. 23, 1852), 246-47. 

9. Amanda Trimble Gheen, born Jan. 18, 1830, East Whiteland, Chester 
County, Pennsylvania, daughter of William Atkins and Esther Ann Pierce Gheen, 
died Nov. 4, 1904, Salt Lake City. Married HCK during Dec, 1845, sealed to 
HCK Feb. 2, 1846. Children by HCK: William Gheen, Mar. 3, 1 851 -Mar. 24, 
1924; Albert Heber, Sept. 13, 1854-Mar. 2, 1944; Jeremiah Heber, Aug. 15, 
1857-May 25, 1887; and Moroni Heber, May 23, 1861-May 23, 1887. 

10. Ann Alice Gheen, born Dec. 20, 1827, West Whiteland, Chester County, 
Pennsylvania, daughter of William Atkins and Esther Ann Pierce Gheen, died Oct. 
12, 1879, Salt Lake City. Married HCK Sept. 10, 1844, sealed to HCK Jan. 7, 
1846. Children by HCK: Samuel Heber, Dec. 9, 1851-Apr. 18, 1943; Daniel 
Heber, Feb. 8, 1856-Apr. 26, 1936; Andrew (a twin), Sept. 6, 1858-Aug. 31, 
1924; Alice Ann (a twin), Sept. 6, 1858-Dec. 19, 1946; and Sarah Gheen, May 
31, 1861-Feb. 8, 191 3. The daughter Alice Ann Kimball divorced her first hus- 
band, David Patten Rich, in 1882. She later became the fifth wife of Joseph F. 
Smith, President of the Mormon Church, on Dec. 6, 1883, and bore him four chil- 
dren. Her twin brother, Andrew, is the father of Spencer W. Kimball, twelfth Presi- 
dent of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

11. Christeen Golden, born Sept. 20, 1822, Mercer County, New Jersey, 
daughter of Jonathan and Mary Golden, died Jan. 30, 1896, Utah. Married and 
sealed to HCK Feb. 3, 1846. Children by HCK: Cornelia Christeen, June 7, 
1850-Dec. 23, t 8 5 3 ; Jonathan Golden, June 9, 1853-Sept. 2, 1938; Elias Smith, 
May 30, 1857-June 13, 1934; and Mary Margaret, Apr. 30, 1861-Sept. 28, 
1937. Jonathan Golden is the best known of all of HCK's children; he later became 
senior president of the First Council of Seventy. Elias became the first Mormon 
chaplain in the U.S. Army; his wife, Luella Whitney, was the last of HCK's daugh- 
ters-in-law to die. 

12. Sophronia Melinda Harmon, born Apr. 5, 1824, Conneaut, Erie County, 
Pennsylvania, daughter of Jess Perse and Anna Barnes Harmon, died Jan. 26, i 847, 
Winter Quarters. Married and sealed to HCK Feb. }, 1 846. No children. 

13. Mary Ellen Harris, born Oct. 5, 181 8, Charleston, Montgomery Coun- 
ty, New York, daughter of Mathias and Sarah Harris Able, died Oct. 28, 1 902, Salt 
Lake City. Married HCK Oct. 1, 1844, sealed to HCK Jan. 26, 1846. One child by 
HCK: Peter Kimball, Dec. 19, 1855-Sept. 27, 1 860. She is sometimes called Mary 

310 Appendix A 

Ellen Able. Apparently her father was named Harris. Mathias Able may have been 
her stepfather. 

14. Elizabeth Hereford, born July, 1789, Asenor, Herefordshire, England, 
parents and date and place of death unknown. Sealed to HCK Feb. 7, 1846. No 
children by HCK. Apparently separated from HCK in 1850. 

15. Mary Houston, born Sept. 11, 18 18, Jackson, Syark County, Ohio, 
daughter of James and Mary Ettlemann Houston, died Dec. 24, 1896, Salt Lake 
City. Sealed for time to HCK Feb. 3, 1846. No children by HCK. Also sealed for 
eternity to Joseph Smith Feb. 3, 1846. 

1 6. Presendia Lathrop Huntington (Buell, Smith), born Sept. 7, 1 8 10, Water- 
town, Jefferson County, New York, daughter of William and Zina Baker Hunting- 
ton, died Feb. 1, 1892, Salt Lake City. Married and sealed for time to HCK Feb. 4, 
1846. Children by HCK: Presendia Celestia, Jan. 9, 1849-May 9, 1850 (drowned); 
and Joseph Smith, Dec. 22, 1851-Mar. 29, 1836. She married Norman Buell 
about 1827 and bore him seven children. He left the church in 1839 and she mar- 
ried Joseph Smith Dec. 11, 1841, and was sealed to him for eternity the same day 
she married HCK for time. She was a sister of Brigham Young's wife, Zina Hunt- 
ington, and served as a midwife in the Kimball family. 

17. Sarah Lawrence (Smith), born May 13, 1826, Pickering Township, On- 
tario County, Canada, daughter of Edward and Margaret Lawrence, died in Cal- 
ifornia, date unknown. Married HCK Oct. 12, 1844, sealed to HCK for time Jan. 
26, 1846. No children by HCK. She married Joseph Smith c. May 11, 1843. $ ne 
apparently did not go west until 1 8 5 o. Of the sixteen women who left HCK, she is 
the only one known to have sought a formal divorce, which was granted June 18, 
185 1. She then moved to California. HCK may have become acquainted with her 
when she did sewing for his family. 

18. Martha McBride (Knight, Smith), born Mar. 17, 1805, Chester, Wash- 
ington County, New York, daughter of Daniel and Abigail Mead McBride, died 
Nov. 20, 1 89 1, Ogden, Utah. Married HCK Oct. 12, 1844, sealed for time to 
HCK Jan. 26, 1 846. She bore HCK one son who died in infancy. She married Vin- 
son Knight July 26, 1 826, and bore him six children. Knight became the presiding 
bishop of the church until he died July 21, 1842, in Nauvoo. Later that year she 
married Joseph Smith. 

19. Margaret McMinn, born Apr. 7, 1829, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 
daughter of Robert and Mary Dull McMinn, date and place of death unknown. 
She may have married HCK Feb., 1846. Nothing further is known about her ex- 
cept that during the summer of 1844 HCK roomed with a "Sister McMinn and 
daughter" in Philadelphia and "took a ride with Sister McMinn's daughter." 

20. Dorothy Moon, born Feb. 9, 1804, Eccleston, Lancashire, England, 
daughter of Matthias and Alice Plumb Moon, died in Utah probably in the 1870s. 

Appendix A 311 

Married and sealed to HCK Mar. 14, 1856, Salt Lake City. No children by HCK. 
One of HCK's five Utah wives. Also one of HCK's English converts, immigrating to 
Nauvoo in the 1840s. 

zi. Hannah Moon, born May 29, 1802, Eccleston, Lancashire, England, 
daughter of Matthias and Alice Plumb Moon, died Dec. 4, 1877, buried in Farm- 
ington, Utah. Married and sealed to HCK Mar. 14, 1 856, Salt Lake City. No chil- 
dren by HCK. Sister of Dorothy Moon. One of HCK's five Utah wives. Also one of 
HCK's English converts, immigrating to Nauvoo in the 1840s. 

22. Theresa Arathusa Morley, born July 18, 1826, Kirtland, Geauga Coun- 
ty, Ohio, daughter of Isaac and Lucy Gunn Morley, died Oct. 7, 1855, Salt Lake 
City. Married and sealed to HCK Feb. 3, 1846. No children. 

23. Vilate Murray, born June 1, 1806, Florida, Montgomery County, New 
York, daughter of Roswell and Susannah Fitch Murray, died Oct. 22, 1867, Salt 
Lake City. Married HCK Nov. 22, 1822, sealed to HCK Jan. 7, 1846. Children by 
HCK: Judith Marvin, July 29, 1823-May 20, 1824; William Henry, Apr. 10, 
1826-Dec. 29, 1907; Helen Mar, Aug. 22, 1828-Nov. 15, 1896; Roswell Heber, 
June 10, 1831-June 15, 1831; Heber Parley, Jan. 1, 1835-Feb. 8, 1885; David 
Patton, Aug. 23, 1839-Mar. 28, 1883; Charles Spaulding, June 2, 1 843 —July, 
1897; Brigham Willard, Jan. 29, 1 845— July 23, 1867; Solomon Farnham, Feb. 2, 
1847-Feb. 7, 1920; and Murray Gould, Jan. 20, 1850-June 29, 1852. Vilate was 
Heber's first wife. William, one of only three sons of Kimball to enter polygamy, 
had five wives and twenty-six children. William's wives were Mary Marion Daven- 
port, Melissa Burton Coray, Martha Jane Vance, Lucy Amelia Pack, and Naomi 
Eliza Redden. David Patton married Caroline M. Williams and later Juliette Mer- 
rill. Helen Mar was one of the two daughters of Kimball to enter polygamy. She 
was first the wife of Joseph Smith and later of Horace K. Whitney. Horace also 
married Lucy Amelia Bloxum and Mary Cravath. Through her writings, Helen be- 
came one of the outstanding female defenders of plurality. Heber Parley had a 
daughter, Winifred, who first married a Mr. Shaughnessy (and later Richard Hud- 
nut of cosmetics fame). Her daughter, Winifred Shaughnessy, took the stage name 
of Natacha Rambova and was the second wife of Rudolph Valentino. One of 
Helen's sons committed suicide in 1886, the only known case in the Kimball 

24. Sarah Peak (Noon), born May 3, 181 1, Old Staunton, Strafordshire, En- 
gland, parents unknown, died Dec. 3, 1873, Salt Lake City. Married HCK during 
1842, sealed to HCK Jan. 15, 1846. Children by HCK: Adelbert, 1842/43-1843; 
Henry, c. 1844-died before 1868; Sarah Helen, July 1, 1845-Dec. 1, i860; and 
Heber, 1849-50. She first married William S. Noon in England and had two 
daughters, Harriet Frances (born Dec. 5, 1830) and Elizabeth (born Apr. 19, 
1 83 1 ). Noon deserted her in Nauvoo and returned to England. She was HCK's first 
plural wife and he assumed responsibility for her two daughters. In a letter dated 

312. Appendix A 

Aug. i, 1854, she reveals how concerned she was over what her family in England 
thought about her polygamous marriage. Edward Martin Correspondence, Church 

25. Ruth L. Pierce (Cazier), born Feb. 11, 18 18, Oswegotchie, St. Lawrence 
County, New York, daughter of Rev. Isaac and Elizabeth Taylor Pierce, date and 
place of death unknown except that it was after 1 861 . Married and sealed to HCK 
Feb. 3, 1846. No children by HCK. She first married Monroe Cazier Apr. 29, 
1838, and bore him six children. After his death she married HCK, but separated 
from him early. There is some evidence that she came to Utah in 1852. On Aug. 14, 
1 861, she married John Harrington. 

26. Abigail Pitkin, born July 17, 1797, Hartford, Windsor County, New 
York, daughter of Paul and Abigail Lathrop Pitkin, died May 15, 1847, Winter 
Quarters. Married and sealed to HCK Jan. 7, 1846. No children by HCK. She was 
one of the two spinsters with whom HCK hoped to enter polygamy in an effort to 
spare Vilate's feelings. Abigail was a friend of Vilate. 

27. Laura Pitkin, born Sept. 10, 1790, Summers, Tollane County, Connecti- 
cut, daughter of Paul and Abigail Lathrop Pitkin, died Nov. 16, 1866, Salt Lake 
City. Married and sealed to HCK Feb. 3, 1846. No children by HCK. She was a 
friend of Vilate and one of the two spinsters with whom HCK hoped to enter po- 
lygamy in an effort to spare Vilate's feelings. She often served as a midwife in the 
Kimball family. 

28. Ruth Amelia Reese, born May 10, 1817, Beaver, Crawford County, 
Pennsylvania, daughter of John and Susannah Owen Reese, died Nov. 26, 1902, 
Salt Lake City. Married and sealed to HCK Feb. 3, 1846. Children by HCK: Su- 
sanna R., July 10, 1 85 1, died same day; Jacob Reese, Apr. 15, 1853-May 30, 
1875; an d Enoch Heber, Sept. 29, 1855-Aug. 20, 1877. 

29. Ellen Sanders (nee Aagaat Ysteinsdatter Bakka), born Apr. 11, 1823, 
Atraa, Telemark, Norway, daughter of Ystein Sondresen and Aase Olsdatter Rom- 
merasen Bakka, died Nov. 22, 1871, Salt Lake City. Married HCK Nov. 5, 1844, 
sealed to HCK Jan. 7, 1846. Children by HCK: Samuel Chase, Feb. 13, 1848-July, 
1848; Joseph Smith (twin), June 2, 1850-Nov. 29, 1864; Augusta (twin), June 2, 
1850-Oct. 5, 1861; Rosalia, Nov. 25, 1853-Feb. 22, 1950; and Jedediah Heber, 
Mar. 10, 1855-June 24, 1927. She was one of the three women of the 1847 first 
Pioneer company. Her twins were the first set in the Kimball family. Rosalia was 
the last of HCK's sixty-five children to die. 

30. Harriet Sanders (nee Helga Ysteinsdatter Bakka), born Dec. 7, 1824, 
Atraa, Telemark, Norway, daughter of Ystein Sondresen and Aase Olsdatter Rom- 
merasen Bakka, died Sept. 5, 1896, Meadowville, Rich County, Utah. Married and 
sealed to HCK Jan. 26, 1846. Children by HCK: Harriet, May 8, 1852, died same 
day; Hyrum Heber, July 6, 1855-June 4, 1943; and Eugene, Jan. 15, 1863-Aug. 

Appendix A 313 

14, 193 2. She was a sister of Ellen and at one time worked in the HCK home to 
help Vilate with her four small sons. 

31. Sarah Schuler (Buckwalter), born May 1 5, 1801, Chester County, Penn- 
sylvania, daughter of William and Sarah Crull Schuler, died Jan 25, 1879, Salt 
Lake City. Married HCK for time Feb. 7, 1846. No children by HCK. She married 
her first husband, John Buckwalter, Feb. 21, 1828, and bore him eight children. He 
died Mar. 1, 1841. She did not come west until 1852 and never lived with HCK. 

32. Sarah Scott, born Oct. 25, 181 7, Belfast, Ireland, daughter of Jacob and 
Sarah Warnock Scott, date and place of death unknown. Married and sealed for 
time to HCK Feb. 3, 1846. No children by HCK. Also sealed for eternity to Joseph 
Smith Feb. 3, 1846. 

33. Sylvia Porter Sessions (Lyon), born July 31, 181 8, Newry, Oxford 
County, Maine, daughter of David and Patty Bartlett Sessions, died Apr. 13, 1882, 
Bountiful, Utah. Married for time to HCK Jan. 26, 1846. No children by HCK. 
She married her first husband, Dr. Winsor Palmer Lyon, in 1838 and bore him six 
children, most of whom died in infancy. While her first husband was living and 
with his permission, she married Joseph Smith for eternity Jan. 26, 1 846, and mar- 
ried HCK for time. She separated from HCK in 1847 and married Ezekiel Clark 
Jan. 1, 1850. She bore him one child in Iowa City, Iowa. She apparently returned 
to Kimball in 1854. 

34. Mary Ann Shefflin, born Oct. 31, 181 5, Speedwell, New Jersey, daugh- 
ter of Hugh and Margaret Brown Shefflin, died Sept. 26, 1869, Salt Lake City. 
Married and sealed to HCK Feb. 4, 1846. She bore HCK one child, Mary Ann, 
dates unknown. She separated from HCK about 1850 and later married Alfred 
Walton, Nov. 1, 1855, Salt Lake City, The separation must have been amicable for 
she was buried in the Kimball family cemetery. In reference to this matter Heber 
wrote a son on Dec. 21, 1854: "Mary Ann Kimball has taken upon her her original 
name, Mary Ann Shefflin, as she could not endure any longer without having a 
man to herself, there were no tears on the subject; but the matter took its natural 
course. This is quite a relief to your father." (Historian's Office Letterpress copy- 
books, vol. 1, pp. 45-57.) 

35. Mary Smithies, born Oct. 7, 1837, Barshal Eves, Lancashire, England, 
daughter of James and Nancy Ann Knowles Smithies, died June 8, 1 880, Salt Lake 
City. Married and sealed to HCK Jan. 25, 1857, Salt Lake City. Children by HCK: 
Mary Melvina, Aug. 29, 1858-May 8, 1933; James Heber, Apr. 9, 1860-June 2, 
1866; Wilford Alfonzo, Oct. 6, 1863-Nov. 15, 1928; Lorenzo Heber, Feb. 6, 
1866-JuIy 2, 1929; and Abbie Sarah, Jan. 15, 1868-Feb. 23, 1943. She was the 
first child born to Mormon parents in England. Heber blessed her as an infant and 
promised her she would be a mother in Zion. She was his last wife. Lorenzo Heber 
was HCK's last son and Abbie Sarah his last child. 

314 Appendix A 

36. Sarah Stiles, born Mar. 5, 1893, Suffield, Hartford County, Connecticut, 
daughter of Daniel O. and Sarah Buckland Stiles, died about 1899, place un- 
known. Married and sealed for time to HCK Feb. 3, 1846. No children by HCK. 
She may have been sealed for eternity to Joseph Smith Jan. 26, 1846. She may also 
have later married Alanson Barney. 

37. Rebecca Swain (Williams), born Aug. 3, 1798, Loyalsack, Lycoming 
County, Pennsylvania, daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth Hall Swain, died Sept. 25, 
1 861, Cache Valley, Utah. Married and sealed for time to HCK Feb. 7, 1846. No 
children by HCK. She married her first husband, Frederick Granger Williams, one- 
time counselor to Joseph Smith, Dec. 25, 181 5, and bore him four children. He 
died Oct. 25, 1842. She was sealed to him for eternity Feb. 7, 1846. 

38. Frances Jessie Swan, born June 20, 1822, Edinburgh, Scotland, daughter 
of Douglas and Margaret Craig Swan, date and place of death unknown. Married 
HCK Sept. 30, 1844, sealed to HCK Feb., 1846. One child by HCK: Margaret 
Jane, Apr. 9, 1846-Aug. 10, 1846. In 1851 she separated from HCK and went to 
California, where she married a Mr. Clark. 

39. Lucy Walker (Smith), born Apr. 30, 1826, Peacham, Caledonia County, 
Vermont, daughter of John and Lydia Holmes Walker, died Oct. 1, 1910, Salt Lake 
City. Married HCK Feb. 8, 1845, sealed for time to HCK Jan. 15, 1846. Children 
by HCK: Rachel Sylvia, Jan. 28, 1846-Dec. 22, 1847; John Heber, Dec. 12, 
1850-Nov. 28, 1918; Willard Heber, Jan. 25, 1853-Dec. 5, 1854; Lydia Holmes, 
Jan. 18, 1856-Apr. 15, 1928; Ann Spaulding, Mar. 18, 1857-Nov. 27, 1932; 
Eliza, May 14, 1859— May 18, 1906; Washington Heber, Oct. 22, 1862-after 
1863; Joshua Heber, Oct. 22, 1862, died in infancy; and Franklin Heber, Aug. 28, 
1864-65. She married her first husband, Joseph Smith, May 1, 1843, anc ^ was 
later sealed to him for eternity. 

40. Ruth Wellington, born Mar. 11, 1809, Waltham, Middlesex County, 
Massachusetts, parents, date, and place of death unknown. Married and sealed to 
HCK Feb. 7, 1846. No children. She may have been married to HCK in Phila- 
delphia July 23, 1844. 

41. Sarah Ann Whitney (Smith), born Mar. 22, 1825, Kirtland, Ohio, 
daughter of Newell Kimball and Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney, died Sept. 4, 1873, 
Salt Lake City. Married HCK Mar. 17, 1845, sealed for time to HCK Jan. 12, 
1846. Children by HCK: David, Mar. 8, 1846-Aug. 18, 1847; David Orson, Aug. 
26, 1848-Apr. 16, 1849; David Heber, Feb. 26, 1850-after 1868; Newel Whit- 
ney, May 19, 1852-after 1868; Horace Heber, Sept. 3, 1855-after 1868; Sarah 
Maria, 1858-Aug., 1902; and Joshua Heber, Feb. 23, 1861-Apr. 6, 1925. She 
married Joseph Smith July 27, 1842. Most records give only the date Sarah Ann 
was sealed to HCK in the Nauvoo temple, raising the question of the legitimacy of 
their first child, David. One sensational account of this marriage is H. Michael 
Marquardt, The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph Smith the 

Appendix A 315 

Mormon Prophet, Joseph C. Kingsbury and Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: 
Modern Microfilm, 1973). What Marquardt failed to find, however, was the rec- 
ord of the March 17, 1845, marriage of Heber to Sarah in the Newel K. Whitney 
1841-45 Account Book Sc Diary, Special Collections, Brigham Young University, 
Provo, Utah. (Newel was father to Sarah Ann). By the time the Nauvoo temple was 
finished sufficiently for marriage ceremonies Heber had married at least thirteen 
other wives, and all his marriages were subsequently solemnized (some for time, 
some for eternity) in the temple during January and February, 1846. The situation 
with Sarah Ann was by no means unusual. There are other suggestions of a March 
marriage in Heber's journal on Feb. 6, March 27, April 15, April 19, and May 22, 

42. Adelia Almira Wilcox (Hatton, Brown), born Mar. 29, 1828, Bloom- 
field, New York, daughter of Eber and Catherine Noramore Wilcox, died Oct. 1 9, 
1896, Kanosh, Utah. Married and sealed to HCK Oct. 9, 1856, Salt Lake City. No 
children by HCK. She married her first husband, William Hawthorne Hatton, 
May 15, 1844, and bore him three children. One daughter, Mary Eliza Hatton, 
married Abraham Alonzo Kimball, one of HCK's sons. After Hatton was killed by 
Indians Sept. 13, 1853, at Fillmore, Utah, Adelia became a plural wife of Gideon 
Durphy Wood on May 25, 1854. There was friction with the first Mrs. Wood, so 
Adelia got her sealing or marriage cancelled Oct. 5, 1856, and went to Salt Lake 
City, where she eventually married HCK. She was one of the five Utah wives. 

43. Nancy Maria Winchester, born Aug. 19, 1828, Black Rock, Erie Coun- 
ty, Pennsylvania, daughter of Stephen and Nancy Case Winchester, died Mar. 17, 
1876, place unknown. Married HCK Oct. 10, 1844, sealed for time to HCK Feb. 
3, 1846. No children by HCK. Also sealed for eternity to Joseph Smith Feb. 3, 
1846. She separated from HCK in 1865 anc ' married Amos George Arnold Oct. 
12, 1865. She bore him one child. 

It is possible that Heber was sealed to other women. More than one woman re- 
quested that this be done. In addition to the above-mentioned account of Adelia 
Wilcox, there is evidence that a Jane Benson had made a similar application. Nev- 
ertheless, she married James Bonsall. Kimball "told him to take good care of her 
for him." (Historian's Office Journal, May 21, 1856, Church Archives). 

Kimball may have had still other wives sealed to him posthumously. While 
this practice has long since been discontinued, it did exist for a period after 1844. 
According to the Endowment House Sealing Records, on June 15, 1874, Sarah 
Boothman, on Oct. 1 2, 1 876, Diadama Hare, and on Oct. 1 9, 1 876, Rebecca Ann 
Scott were sealed to Heber. In 1882 Heber's son Abraham Alonzo sealed Elizabeth 
Parkinson to Heber (A. A. Kimball Journal, 234, in author's possession). 

Michael Quinn of Brigham Young University has found evidence of still an- 
other possible wife of HCK. In an entry in Endowment House Record, 1851-51, 
#65, under date of June 8, 1851, James Goff was sealed to a woman named Lydia, 

3 i6 

Appendix A 

about whom the following notation was made: "Sealed by R. Cahoon to H. C. 
Kimball in 1844 in R. Cahoon's house in presence of sister Johnson who was 
sealed to R. Cahoon." 

This wife appears to be Lydia Kenyon, born Dec. 11, 1799, Benson, Rutland 
County, Vermont, daughter of Daniel and Mary Tanner Kenyon, date and place of 
death unknown. 

She first married Simeon Daget Carter Dec. 2, 181 8, and bore him three chil- 
dren; eventually she moved to Nauvoo, where she was sealed to HCK. She appar- 
ently came to Utah and married James Goff in the Endowment House in 1 8 5 1 . Her 
marriage to HCK seems to have been a sealing to become effective only after her 


For all of Heber Kimball's prudence, and despite his threat to leave all his property 
to the church, he died intestate. He was survived by thirteen inheriting wives, 
forty-one inheriting children, at least eight other wives who had not formally sepa- 
rated from him, and an undetermined number of adopted and foster children. Ten 
of his inheriting wives had children; the other three were entirely dependent on 
him. The eight other wives appear to have been living with relatives and friends 
elsewhere, mainly in Utah. (The following information comes from Heber's estate 
papers in the Utah State Archives and the Utah Historical Society.) 

The gross value of his estate was figured at $100,580 (or the equivalent of 
more than $2,000,000 in 1980), less debts of $15,255, leaving a net of $85,324, or 
approximately $1,600 per heir. 

The estate procedures were very complicated and were not finally completed 
until 1876. In fact some undistributed property was discovered in 1887, and there 
was a question about one city lot which came up as late as 1938. 

A general inventory of his estate at his death follows: 

Personal property $20,150 

in main home 
in homes of other wives 
at Grantsville ranch 

Real estate 7^,750 

Salt Lake City lots, houses, gristmill, 

carding mill 
San Pete Valley farm and ranch 
Provo house, lot, meadow 
Davis County farm and flour mill 
Richfield farm 
Cache Valley farm 
Grantsville herd ground and house 

Livestock $5*955 

Salt Lake City 

Accounts receivable I »7 2 -5 



3 i8 

Appendix B 

The first act of the court was to order an inventory of his property. This ex- 
tremely detailed document reveals much about the life and economics of his family. 
The listing of personal property in his main home, for example, includes several 
copies of the Book of Mormon, thirty-one other assorted books, furniture, carpet- 
ing, pens, needles, stamps, lamps, belts, bolts, hinges, tools, brooms, lobelia, tea, 
coffee, and a spitoon, for a total value of $5,052. 

The personal property used by his thirteen inheriting wives was retained by 
them in 1868 and accounted as part of their inheritance. 

The distribution of Kimball's property to wives in 1868 and 1875 and to chil- 
dren in 1876 was as follows: 





1 . Lucy Walker 

2. John H. 

3. Lidia H. 

4. Ann S. 

5. Eliza 

6. Washington 





7. Ann Gheen 

8. Samuel H. 



9. Andrew 

10. Daniel H. 

11. Alice A. 

12. Sarah 



13. Sarah Ann Whitney 

14. David H. 

15. Newel W 

16. Horace H. 

17. Sarah M. 

18. Joshua W. 





19. Amanda Gheen 

20. William C. 
zi. Albert H. 

22. Jeremiah H. 

23. Moroni H. 





24. Mary Smithies 

25. Malvina 



Appendix B 


26. Wilford 

27. Lorenzo 

28. Abbie 



29. Christeen Golden 

30. Jonathan G. 

31. Elias S. 

32. Mary M. 





33. Harriet Sanders 

34. Hiram H. 

35. Eugene 





36. Ruth Reese 

37. Jacob R. 

38. Enoch H. 





39. Presendia Huntington 

40. Joseph 



3 2 


(plus home occupied by his mother) 

41. Ellen Sanders 

42. Jedediah H. 





Mary Houston 

44. Sarah Peak 

45. Mary Ellen Harris 

46. Heber P. Kimball (Vilate)* 

47. Helen M. Whitney (Vilate) 

48. David R Kimball (Vilate) 

49. William H. Kimball 


50. Rosalia Edwards 

(Ellen Sanders) 

51. Abraham A. Kimball 

(Clarissa Cutler) 

52. Solomon F. Kimball 


53. Isaac A. Kimball 

(Emily Cutler) 

54. Charles S. Kimball (Vilate) 

55. Daniel Davis (adopted) 



































*Children 46 through 54 were of age. The names of their mothers are given in parentheses. 
Daniel Davis was the sole adopted child to inherit. It is clear from Davis' diary that he was 
very close to Heber and was treated like a member of the family. 

32-o Appendix B 

At the final distribution in 1876 the gross breakdown was: 

Total value of the estate $100,580 

Less estate debts 15,2.55 

Distributed to wives 5°?35 2 

Distributed to children 12,194 

Living expenses 1868-75 2.2., 799 

Balance 00 

From these figures it appears that his ten inheriting wives and their thirty-two 
minor children were treated equally, similarly the three childless wives. Apparently 
family responsibility and the amount of property previously received from Kimball 
determined the distribution to his ten married children. 

Heber C. Kimball's posterity includes scores of missionaries, bishops, stake 
and mission presidents, and individuals as varied as great-granddaughter Natacha 
Rambova (nee Winifred Shaughnessy), the second wife of Rudolph Valentino; a 
son, Jonathan Golden Kimball, who held a high church position and is regarded as 
the Mormon Will Rogers; a daughter, Alice, who became a plural wife of Joseph F. 
Smith, the sixth President of the church (1901-18) and Heber's foster son; and a 
grandson, Spencer W. Kimball, who became the twelfth President of the Church of 
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1973. 


A Typical Page from H. C. Kimball's Journal, June 4, 1837, Kirtland, Ohio. 

This is a portion of the first page of his first extant journal and describes his 
call to England. (Courtesy Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Lat- 
ter-Day Saints.) 

fi^ ^^ysji erf- ffii ^Ciry-J ^cZ *-> 

>C^?^i^w. 'J-tx^Lx. -/a_<.«-^-c -^^-h-^J ->-»-». .->^~y ~**tM' 

3 21 

322 Appendix C 

A Page from H. C. Kimball's First Extant Letter to Vilate, June 27, 1837, New 
York City. (H. C. Kimball Papers, Church Archives.) 

This letter was written the day before he sailed for England. 

■^-^•— y ^- Si^^Mi^ " •* w ~ i ^^ -/**»• ^~>* *«<l»*w ^w **** 

****** • ^"***)£&v ^/m? -/" 

t04 y^ w jL *C*+* •++**+£■ **$k*+'* «A<V&- *f-^««V|V>.*.w^ ** ^^<. <#Um 

Appendix C 323 

New York June 27 1837 
My Dear Wife 

Having this opetunity to comunicating a few words to you I improve it, on 
tuesday the thirteenth I toock the parting hand with you in whom I Love So dear, 
we got to buffalow the next morning we stade till most night wating for brother 
talor [Taylor] he did not come we twock a line boat and went on our journy got to 
rochester Elder Hide twock packet boat so as to guit to new york at the time 
pointed brother richards and my self Stade in Rochester 16 hours I se[e] Miss 
Mack gloplin [?] and Sent word to [word unclear] She was thare few days before 
they was all well, I rote a leter and put in the ofice at lobby not nowing that I 
should see annyone in Rochester, they sed that they should gow thare in about a 
weack, from thare we went to utica, thare we twock the Rale Rode to Albany then 
I went to Richford with brother Richards to see his friends we got thare in the 
morning; and left the next morning; we left thare and go to New York the zi. In 
the Afternoon at [word missing] oclock and found our brethren all thare, some of 
the inglish brethren, the brethren ware hiring thare bord, 1 hireed mine one day it 
cost one dollar a day we thought best to hire a room; and bord our selves we ob- 
tained a small room of Eliger fordham in a store house he let us have it for six cents 
a weack, so that we could have our own hird hous, so that the law would protect 
us, we take our blackets and sleep on the flower I have not slep in a bed but fore 
nights sens I left home, I was taking with a relax when I got to Albany and held me 
three or fore days; and run me down qute weack, it was in changing my food I had 
[word missing] four warm meals since I left Kirtland and dont Expect to till we 
quit to Europe = the first day that we got to keeping hous thare was a prest come 
and pitched [preached] fowl abus [abuse ?] 1 went with brother fordham to see a 
widdow that was believing and thare was a baptist prest come to see me and we 
converssed to gether about tow or three hours it was the means convinsing one 
that set by for he denide the word so we warn them of the truth, thare is three 
wimmen that are waiting to Recieve the truth one of them wants to gow to Zion, 
and may [the] lord heft [help] him to gow 

An Example of H. C. Kimball's Eloquence, from a letter to his brother Solomon, 
January 2, 1857. (H. C. Kimball Papers, Church Archives.) 

I am happy my family are happy. They do not murrner nor complain, but 
praise and thank the Lord our God for his goodness to us that we are away here in 
the tops of the mountains a thousand miles from the Christian nations, and I 
thank God for this, and that and everything that God Almighty has seen fit in the 
last days to bring about. 

You may think strange of my making these remarks, it is these very Christians 
that have driven me from Ohio, &: Missouri & Illinois and from the Iowa Terri- 
tory, and robbed me of my goods and of my homes, and habitations, and perse- 

3 24 Appendix C 

cuted me in old Mendon, and every other place where I have ever been. These are 
the kind of Christians that I rejoice before God that I am delivered from them. 
They are the ones that killed Joseph Smith, and Hyrum, and David Patten, and 
hundreds of others, and these Christian armies were led by Methodist and Baptist 
Priests, and Presbyterian Priests, and my house that I built and lived in and lands 
are still standing there in Kirtland, Ohio. I have one of the best houses in the city of 
Nauvoo standing there now that belongs to me with several other places: my hab- 
itation that I erected in Mo. I have lands there, my houses were burned with my 
goods within them. In Nauvoo when I left there, I left my looking glasses hanging 
up, my bureaus my bedsteads, tables, stand, stoves and almost everything else and 
I [was] driven out in the month of Feb., to take my shelter in the wilderness with 
defenseless women and children. 

This done by a Christian people. Is that nation satisfied with their hellish de- 
signs upon us, no! no! There are men right in our midst every day declaring that if 
they can't have the privilege of seducing our daughters they will bring the U.S. 
troops on us. I can say in the name of Israel's God that that Christian nation that 
has served me and my brethren and driven us from State to State, and from town to 
town, and from synagogue to synagogue, and from Territory to Territory, and 
from the Territory into the tops of the mountains in to an inland country 1,000 
miles from everybody, that this same thing that they have heaped upon me and 
upon my brethren, I say in the name of Israel's God, and by that virtue that God 
Almighty has placed in me, that Christian nation in which you dwell shall receive 
the same back on to their heads, which they have heaped on to us, and it shall be 
doubled on to them, for the nation of the U.S. have shed innocent blood, and shed 
the blood of prophets and the rest of that nation has consented to it, and he that 
consents to an evil on his fellow is the same as the administrator, and that is ac- 
cording to the law of the land, and this has all been done by those that you con- 
sider to be an enlightened Christian nation, for to exceed the light that existed in 
the days of Jesus and the Apostles, for you call this an enlightened age and full of 
new invention, true as to that, but have turned their ears to Fables, and are running 
after Baal, and lifted up in the pride of their hearts, and heaped to themselves 
teachers having itching ears, for the paltry sum of a little gold or silver, and when 
they can get a little more gold or silver in a Railroad station of or a Canal, they will 

leave their sanctum sanctorums for the paltry sum of a little gold that will 

soon corrode and vanish away. Jesus says, lay up your treasures in heaven where 
moth nor rust can't corrupt and thieves break through and steal. 


This work is based on all the pertinent primary and secondary sources I could lo- 
cate over a period of nine years' research. All the major sources — all of Kimball's 
personal papers and speeches and the hundreds of other Kimball family papers in 
church and non-church collections, other church, county, state, national, Masonic, 
British, and private archival materials, newspapers, magazines, journals (including 
all Mormon publications printed during Kimball's lifetime), theses, dissertations, 
pamphlets, monographs, histories, travel accounts, newsletters, and other Mor- 
mon and non-Mormon materials have been cited in the notes. Many official and 
little used church minute books and office journals were also consulted. Especially 
valuable is R. B. Thompson, ed., Journal of Heber C. Kimball (Nauvoo, 111.: 
Robinson and Smith, 1840) and President Heber C. Kimball's Journal . . . (Salt 
Lake City: Juvenile Instructor OiRce, 1882), and a five-part "Synopsis of the His- 
tory of Heber C. Kimball," Deseret News, Mar. 31- Apr. 28, 1858. 

Most of the recent research by professional historians of the Mormon His- 
tory Association which has been presented at their past fifteen annual meetings 
and published in such journals as the Journal of Mormon History, Brigbam Young 
University Studies, Dialogue, Sunstone, The Ensign, and the Utah Historical 
Quarterly, and in many monographs has been studied and cited in the notes. All 
pertinent non-Mormon and "anti-Mormon" works have also been used and cited. 

The main printed secondary sources on Kimball are Orson F. Whitney's Life 
of Heber C. Kimball, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallace, 1945). first Po- 
lished in 1888; the Kimball Family Newsletter, 1945-present; biographical 
sketches in Andrew Jenson, Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopaedia. . . , 4 
vols. (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Co., 1901-36); Frank Esshom, Pi- 
oneers and Prominent Men of Utah (Salt Lake City: Utah Pioneers Book Publish- 
ing Co., 191 3); Preston Nibley, Stalwarts of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Deseret 
Book, 1954); Edward W. Tullidge, Life of Brigham Young . . . (New York: 
Tullidge and Crandall, i 876); Lawrence R. Flake, Mighty Men ofZiou (Salt Lake 
City: Karl D. Butler, 1974); Matthias F. Cowley, Prophets and Patriarchs (Chat- 
tanooga, Tenn.: Ben E. Rich, 1902); and Kate Carter, ed., Heber C. Kimball: His 
Wives and Children (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1967). Many ar- 
ticles on Kimball appeared in older Mormon publications such as the Improve- 
ment Era, the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, and the Contributor. 

Davis Bitton read a paper, "Heber C. Kimball's Authoritarian Imagery," be- 


3 z6 Appendix C 

fore the 1974 Conference on the Language of the Mormons, and James F. O'Con- 
nor even wrote a 1978 thesis at Brigham Young University on "An Analysis of the 
Speaking Style of Heber C. Kimball." There is also an amateur readers' theater 
musical, "Heber C!" 


Adam, 209 

Adam-God Theory, xiv, 209 

Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri, 55, 56 

Adoption, Law of, 14011 

Aitken, Rev. Robert, 48-49, 74 

Aitkenites, 48-49, 74 

Alburn, James, 74 

Allen, Ethan, 255 

Allen, James, 139, i42n 

Allgood, Mrs. William, 72 

American Fork, Utah, 216 

Ancient Ruins Bluff, 159, 160 

Anderson, Kirk, 262 

Angell, Mary Ann, 27 

Antelope Island, 222, 250, 25 8n, 

Anti-bigamy bills, 264, 290 
Anti-Masons, 13 
Anti-Mormon agitation: in Ohio, 27, 

28, 29; in Missouri, 29, 31, 32, 

55 — 62 passim; in Illinois, 107, 

115, 116, 119 — 20, 124 
Anti-polygamy bills. See Anti-bigamy 

Apple Creek, Illinois, 99, 103 
Arapahoe, 165 
Arapeen, 194 
Arkansas, 58 

Ash Hollow, Nebraska, 159 
Atlas, Illinois, 30, 103 
Australia, 199 
Avard, Sampson, 179 
Avon, New York, 20 

Bands in Utah, 202 

Baptists, 14, 18, 21, 22n, 24n, 32, 

Barns, Hulda. See Kimball's wives 
Bear Lake country, 303 
Bedford, England, 77 

Bedfordshire, England, 41 

Bee Hive House, 255 

Bellevue, Nebraska, 145 

Bennett, John C, 103, 179 

Benson, Ezra T., 95 

Benson, Jane, 315 

Bernhisel, John M., 215, 263, 264, 

Big Elk, 145 

Billings, George W., 14m, 147 
Birmingham, England, 71 
Bishop, Gladden, 95 
Black Hills, 161 

Black Hawk War, 193, 195, 291 
Blacks, 148, i49n 
Blair, Seth M., 206 
Blood Atonement, 209-10 
Bloxum, Lucy, 31 1 
Boggs, Lilburn W., 58 
Bonney, Edward, 120, i24n 
Book of Commandments, 33 
Book of Mormon, xii, 15, 16, 18, 20, 

2-3"> 33> 43 n > 46, 49, 73, 7^-77, 

89, 138, 145, 197, 199, 205n, 295, 

Boothman, Sarah, 315 
Boston, Massachusetts, 104 
Botanic medicine, 179 — 80 
Bountiful, Utah, 221, 234, 295, 30m 
Bowles, Samuel, 278, 287^ 291 
Bowman, William, 61 
Boynton, John F., 12, 35, 36, 53, 60 
Brandenbury, Lemuel G., 207 
Brassfield, S. Newton, 290 
Bridger, James, 156, 165-66 
Brigham City, Utah, 222 
Brigham Young Express and Carrying 

Co., 223 
Britannia , 78 
British Guiana, 199 




Brocchus, Perry G., 206, 207 
Brotherton, Elizabeth, 97 
Brotherton, Martha, 94, 97 
Browne, Charles Farrar (Artemus 

Ward), 280-82, 28711 
Buchanan, Abigail. See Kimball's 

Buchanan, James, 212, 215, 21 7n 
Buckwalter, Sarah. See Sarah Schuler 
Buffalo, xii, 156, 158-59, 171 
Buffalo, New York, 38, 39 
Buffington, Joseph, 206, 207 
Burslem, England, 71 
Burton, Sir Richard, 280 

Cache Cave, 167 

California, 120, 134, 137, 153, 156, 

163, 190, 197, 219, 238, 244n, 

248, 276, 278, 279, 284, 290 
California Trail, 153 
Camp Floyd, 84, 216, 260-66 

Camp of Israel, 131, 150 
Canandaigua, New York, 9, 12 
Canada, 4, 6, 36, 41, 45, 64, 284, 

Cannon, George Q., 78, 294, 298 
Carlin, Thomas, 103 
Carrington, Albert, 262, 268, 293, 

2-94, 2.95 
Carthage, Illinois, 108 
Carvalho, Solomon Nunes, 279 
Ceylon, 199 
Chapin, Heman, 38, 39 
Chariton River, 133 
Chartist Movement in England, 71 
Chase, Charlotte. See KimbalPs wives 
Chase, Mr., 4, 5 
Chatburn, England, 52 
Chattenham, England, 71 
Chimney Rock, Nebraska, 159, 161, 

Choirs in Utah, 202 
Cholera, 32, 66, 76, 177 
Church Historian's Office, Church of 

Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 

180, 229, 255 
Cincinnati, Ohio, 104 
Cipriani, Count Leonetto, 245 

City of Joseph, 115, 14m. See also 

Civil War, 248, 263, 290 
Clay, Henry, 106 
Clayton, William, 51, 53, 95, 133, 

144, 160, 173; writes "Come, 

Come, Ye Saints," 134; keeps Kim- 
ball journal, 156 
Clemens, Orion, 280 
Clemens, Samuel L. (Mark Twain), 

16, 223, 280 
Cleveland, Ohio, 27 
Clinton, Indiana, 30 
Cock Pit, 52, 70 
Colonizing, 153, 191-92 
Colorado, 154, 163, 189, 197, 290 
Columbia, Pennsylvania, 19 
Columbus, 44 

"Come, Come, Ye Saints," 134-35 
Commerce, Illinois, 65. See also 

Committee on Removal, 60, 61 
Compromise of 1850, 197 
Connor, Gen. Patrick, 265, 266, 290 
Cook, Phineas W, 225n 
Coray, Melissa, 311 
Council Bluffs, Iowa, 133-39 passim 
Council House, 199, 255 
Council of Fifty, 114- 15, 161, 207, 

Counterfeiting, 121 
Court House Rock, Nebraska, 159, 

Cowdery, Oliver, 35, 36, 38, 60, 257n 
Cox, Lucretia, 181 
Cragin Bill, 290 

Crane, Professor of Phrenology, 83 
Cravath, Mary, 311 
Crooked River, Battle of, 57-58 
Crosby, Oscar, i49n 
Crosby, Martha, i49n 
Crow, Elizabeth, 163 
Crow Indians, 157, 174 
Cumming, Alfred W, 215, 260, 263, 

264, 279 
Cumming, Elizabeth, 283 
Cushing, Hosea, 14m, 147 
Cutler, Alpheus, 68, 95, 140, 180, 

243n, 244n 



Cutler, Clarissa. See Kimball's wives 
Cutler, Emily. See Kimball's wives 
Cutler, Franklin, 1441) 
Cutler's Park, Nebraska, 140 

Dancing in Utah, 202 

Danes. See Denmark 

Daughters of American Revolution, 


Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 154 

Davenport, Mary, 1 29, 160, 249, 3 1 1 

Davis, Daniel, 14m, 146, 147, 225n, 
251, 259n, 319 

Dawson, John A., 264 

Dayton, Ohio, 30 

Decker, Clara, 150, 170, 173 

Decker, Isaac, 150 

de Smet, Father Pierre Jean, 146, 

Denmark, 135, 14m, 251, 253 

Deseret Academy of Fine Arts, 202 

Deseret Agricultural and Manufactur- 
ing Society, 225 

Deseret Alphabet, 203, 205n 

Deseret costume, 249 

Deseret Dramatic Association, 202 

Deseret News, 23 n, 180, 188, 192, 
199, 221, 255, 262, 294, 30m 

Deseret Philharmonic Society, 202 

Deseret Theological Institute, 202 

Deseret Typographical Union, 202 

Devil's Gate, Wyoming, 165 

Dickens, Charles, 50, 287n 

Dilworth, Harriet, 147 

Divorce, 94, 95, 230, 310 

Doctrine and Covenants, 27, 34, 35, 

43", 95 
Dominguez, Father, 171 
Doty, Elizabeth. See Kimball's wives 
Douglas, Stephen A., 106-7 
Dull (Duell), Mary. See Kimball's 

Dymock, England, 71 

Eames, Ellis, 152 
Education in Utah, 202—3 
Egan, Howard, 95, 14m, 147 
Elder's Journal, 54n 
Elk Horn River, 164, 181 

Ellsworth, Capt. Edmond, 210 

Elocution Society, 202, 203 

Emigrants. See Emigration 

Emigration, 77, 78, 82, 132, 156, 
168, 191—92, 21 1, 289 

Endowment House, 199, 202, 208, 
255, 289, 291 

England, xi, xiv, 4, 6, 64, 65, 66, 68, 
93,95, 114, 115, 121, 137, 150, 
168, 178, 248, 251, 261, 263, 284, 
292, 308, 3 io, 311, 313; Puritans 
and Separatists, 4; Kimball's first 
mission in, 44-53 passim; tem- 
perance movement in, 45, 52, 73; 
conditions of working class in, 46, 
49, 50, 51, 71; converts in, 48-52, 
77; emigration from, 48, 77, 78, 
188, 198; Industrial Revolution in, 
50-51, 70-71; Kimball's second 
mission in, 70-78; Millennial Star, 
70, 77, 195, 205, 242, 258; Shake- 
speare, 71; Chartists Movement, 
71; Queen Victoria, 72, 73, 277; 
Sherlock Holmes, 77; cities in: 
Bedford, jj; Bedfordshire, 41; 
Birmingham, 71; Burslem, 71; 
Chatburn, 52; Chattenham, 71; 
Dymock, 71; Herefordshire, 70; 
Hull, 71; Ipswich, 77; Lancashire, 
45-53 passim, 71, 8on; London, 
71-77 passim, 8on; Longridge, 48; 
Manchester, 70, 71, 73, 77, 78; 
Penwortham, 51; Preston, 41, 
45 — 53 passim, 60, 70, 73; Staf- 
fordshire, 70; Surry, 71; Walker- 
fold, 48; West Bromwich, 71; 
Woolrich, 77; Yorkshire, 71. See 
also Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland, 
and Wales 

Ephraim, Utah, 246 

Erie Canal, 21 

Escalante, Father, 171 

Europe, 41, 199, 326 

Evening and Morning Star, 33 

Explorers, 171 

Extermination Order, 58 

Fairfield, Utah, 261 
Farmington, Utah, 192, 234 



Farr, Aaron, 158 

Far West, Missouri, 55-56, 60, 137; 
attacked, 58-59; sacked, 61; tem- 
ple site dedicated, 62, 199 

Female intellectual societies in Utah, 

Fielding, James, 41, 45, 46, 49 

Fielding, Joseph, 41, 45, 53, 60 

Fielding, Mary. See Kimball's wives 

Fillmore, Millard, 206 

Fillmore, Utah, 102 

Finney, Charles G., 14 

First General Epistle of the First Presi- 
dency, 1849, 189 

First Presidency of the Church of 
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 
xiii, 82, 188-299 passim; 
organized, 178-79 

First Quorum of Seventies of the 
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- 
day Saints, organized, 198 

First Vision, 3, 17, 46 

Flake, Green, i49n 

Florence, Nebraska, 140 

Ford, Thomas, 107 

Fosgren, John, 139, 14m, 243^ 251 

Fosgren, Mary, 147 

Fort Bridger, Wyoming, 156, 164, 
166, 167, 171, 172, 173, 215 

Fort Des Moines, Iowa, 66 

Fort Douglas, Utah, 265, 266 

Fort Laramie, Wyoming, 151, 156, 
161, 163, 175 

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 137, 139, 
212, 263, 267n 

Fort Lemhi, Idaho, 191, 192 

Fort Pueblo, Colorado, 163 

Fowler, Orson, 9on 

France, 6, 9, 55, 138, 168 

Frazier, Jacob, 14m 

Fremont, John C, 120, 156 

French. See France 

Frogtown. See Fairfield, Utah 

Fulmer, John, 201 

Fur traders, 156 

Galland, Isaac, 65, 179 
Garden Grove, Iowa, 135, 136 
Garrick, 42, 44, 53 

Gem, 15 

Genesee, New York, 20 

Gentiles (non-Mormons), 116, 164, 

194, 196, 209, 215, 223, 260, 262, 

265, 266, 269, 276, 280, 281, 290, 

291, 292, 299 
Gheen, Amanda. See Kimball's wives 
Gheen, Ann Alice. See Kimball's wives 
Gifford, Alpheus, 16-17, 18, 19, 23n 
Gift of tongues, 39, 117- 18 
Glasgow, Illinois, 103 
Godsby, William, 284 
Golden, Christeen. See Kimball's 

Gold Rush, 190-91, 196, 210 
Goodson, John, 41, 46 
Goodyear, Miles, 156, 167, 191 
Gove, Capt. Jesse A., 277, 279 
Grant, Heber J., 204n 
Grant, Jedediah M., 208, 212, 2i7n, 

223, 235, 297 
Grantsville, Utah, 222 
Great Basin, xiii, 77, 84, 116, 132, 

J 33> M7> J 56, 166, 167, 168, 187, 

188, 191, 196, 199, 205n, 247, 

Great Basin Indians, 168, 192-95, 

215, 261, 288n, 291 
Great Platte River Road, 153, 156 
Great Salt Lake, 146, 165, 171 
Great Salt Lake Water Works, 224, 

Greeley, Horace, 219, 223, 279—80 
Greene, John P., 19, 65 
Greene, Mrs. John P., 23n 
Green River, 164, 166, 167 
Grover, Thomas, 95 
Guadalupe Hidalgo, Treaty of, 196 
Gunnison, Lt. John W., 261 

Hall, William, 14m 
Handcarts, 210- 11 
"Handcart Song," 210- 1 1 
Hansen, Hans C, 14m, 147, 243n 
Hansen, Peter O., 135, 14m, 251, 

Harding, Stephen S., 264-65 
Hare, Diadama, 315 
Harmon, Appleton, 161 



Harmon, Sophronia. See Kimball's 

Harney, Gen. W. S., 212 
Harris, Broughton D., 206, 207 
Harris, Martin, 35, 60 
Harris, Mary Ellen. See KimbalFs 

Harris, Moses, 156, 165 
Hastings, Lansford W., 120 
Hatton, Mary Eliza, 240, 315 
Hatton, William, 194, 315 
Haws, Peter, 133 
Hazen, Gen. William B., 288n 
Heber's Spring, 164, i75n 
Hedlock, Reuben, 69 
Hereford, Elizabeth. See Kimball's 

Herefordshire, England, 70 
Hess, John W, 228 
Hess, Sister, 147 
Heywood, Joseph L., 120, 206 
Heywood, Martha, 203 
"History of the Church," 1 1 5 
"History of Joseph Smith," 1 15 
Holmes, Sherlock, 77 
"Honeymoon, The," 202 
Houston, Mary. See Kimball's wives 
Horticultural Society, 202 
Hubbard, Charles, 14 m, 243n 
Hudnut, Winifred, 3 1 1 
Hull, England, 71 
Humboldt River, 194 
Huntington, George, 143 
Huntington, Presendia. See Kimball's 

Hyde, Orson, 35, 41, 46, 47, 52, 60, 

72, 95, 105, 120, 178, 180 

Idaho, 48 

Illinois, xii, 30, 58, 59, 61, 64-69 
passim , 74-76 passim, 81-124 
passim, 137, 143, 150, 156, 170, 
191, 208, 238, 248, 263, 284, 326 

Illinois River, 30 

Independence, Missouri, 131, 137, 
163, 212 

Independence Rock, Wyoming, 164, 
165, 166, 264 

India, 199 

Indiana, 30, 67 

Indianapolis, Indiana, 30 

Indian agents, 137, 138 

Indian missions, 137 

Indians, xii, 29, 116, 135, 140, 
151-59 passim, 163, 165, 166, 
171, 174, 19^-95 Passim, 215, 
261, 277, 28 8n, 291, 315; slavery 
among, 192-93; Black Hawk War, 
193, 195, 291 ; Walker War, 194, 
195; attend Mormon temples, 201; 
tribes: Arapahoe, 165; Crow, 157, 
174; Diggers, 192; Flatheads, 146; 
Gosiutes, 192; Great Basin Indians, 
168, 192-95, 215, 261, 288n, 
291; Omaha, 139, 140, 181; 
Otoes, 140, 181; Paiutes, 192; 
Pawnees, 157; Plains Indians, 157, 
160, 174, 192; Potawatomi, 132, 
139, 14m; Shoshone, 165, 192; 
Sioux, 160-61, 174; Utes, 192, 

Indian territory, 59, 230 

Iowa, 58, 59, 65, 66, 84, 107, 118, 
123, i24n, 129-42 passim, 178, 
240, 243n, 326 

Ipswich, England, 77 

Ireland, 73, 313 

Isle of Man, 71, 73 

Jacksonville, Illinois, 103 
Jacob, Norton, 169 
Jefferson City, Missouri, 60 
Jefferson, Thomas, 6 
Jews, 51,72,84, 299 
Johnson, Benjamin F., 195 
Johnson, Luke S., 12, 35, 53 
Johnson, Lyman E., 12, 35, 53, 60 
Johnston, Gen. Albert Sidney, 212 
Johnston's Army, 212-16 
Jonas, Abraham, 84, 85 

Kane, Col. Thomas L., 1 54, 215, 254, 

Kanesville, Iowa, 139, 180 
Kansas Territory, 212 
Kearny, Nebraska, 156, 158 
Kenyon, Lydia, 3 16 
Keytesville, Missouri, 30 



Kimball, Heber Chase: 

— personal life: Character, xi, xii, 
xvn, 4311; journals, xii, 2311, 4211, 
79", 135, 155, J 73; saltiness, xii, 
xiii, 114, 207, 214, 2i7n, 235, 
253, 262, 268, 269, 275-77, 278, 
279, 280, 283, 285n, 293; hears of 
Book of Mormon, 1, 15, 23n; first 
hears of Mormonism, 3, 4, 17-19; 
description of, 3, 11, 188, 246, 
247, 278-79, 280, 281, 282-83; 
humor, 3, 26, 221, 234, 250, 271, 
275, 283; schooling, 5, 8, 33, 37; 
early religious life, 5, 13; service in 
New York militia, 8, 9; potter, 
10- 1 1, 28, 37, 82; involvement in 
Masonry, 12-13, 64; ) oms ^ a P' 
tists, 14; meets Brigham Young, 15; 
accepts Mormonism, 18, 19, 23n; 
reads Doctrine and Covenants, 34; 
gift of tongues, 39, 117; phrenol- 
ogy, 82, 83, 9on, 9m; estate, 222, 
225n, 317-20; opinions on 
women, 234-36; sickness, 246; 
special cane and rod, 248, 249, 
256n; views on fashion, 249; opin- 
ions of others regarding, 277-83, 
287n; final illness and death, 296, 
297; funeral, 297—99 

— family life and polygamy: Po- 
lygamy, xi, xvn, 117; trials of po- 
lygamy, xii, 93, 96, 97, 98, 99- 
100, ioi, 102-3, 123, 144-45, 
237, 245-46; number of wives, xii, 
xvn, 228, 307-16; family life, xvn, 
93-103, 122, 123, i25n, 129, 
227-41, 243n, 249-50, 253, 254, 
258n, 265, 266, 290; in Vermont, 
3-6; ancestry, 4; birth, 5, 7n; 
named, 5; childhood, 5-6, in New 
York, 8-21 ; meets first wife, 
10- 1 1 ; marries first wife, 1 1 ; in 
Ohio, 27-42, 42n; in Missouri, 
55-62; in Utah, 77, 103, 201, 209, 
216, 227-41, 243n, 245-56 pas- 
sim, 258n, 265, 266, 290, 296-97, 
298; introduced to polygamy, 86, 
93, 94; takes first plural wife, 95, 
97; explains polygamy to daughter, 

97-98; explains polygamy to first 
wife, 99-102; defends polygamy, 
103, 236; in Nauvoo, 113-24; 
takes other wives, 122-23, I2 5 n > 
129, 230; across Iowa, 129-40 
passim; at Winter Quarters, 143- 
47 passim, 177, 180, 181; across 
plains in 1847, 150-52; across 
plains in 1848, 181-83; economic 
life and philosophy (farming, ranch- 
ing, milling, freighting), 219-25, 
225n, 262-63; visitors, 254; death 
of first wife, 295 

-missionary work: Preston, xiv, 
45-535 fi rst mission, to New York, 
in 1832, 20; second mission, to 
eastern states, in 1835, 36-37; 
third mission, to New York and 
Vermont, in 1836, 38-39; heals 
woman, 38, 48; feat of strength, 
39; preaches in German, 39; fourth 
mission, to England, in 1837-38, 
44-53; hostility of Satan, 47-48; 
first converts, 48; opposition, 
48-49; success, 51-53; spiritual 
experience in Chatburn, 52; fifth 
mission, to England, in 1840-41, 
67-69* 70-78; back in Preston, 
70; London, 71-74, 77; success, 
77; sixth mission, to Southern Illi- 
nois, in 1842, 99, 103; defending 
the church, 103; seventh mission, 
to eastern states to collect tithing, 
in 1843, 96, 98, 104-5; eighth 
mission, to Washington, D.C., to 
stump for Joseph Smith, in 1844, 
106-7, 108-9 

-pioneer: Buffalo, xii; Indians, xii; 
across Iowa in 1846, 123-24; at 
Sugar Creek, 123-24, 129-30; 
across Iowa, 135, 137, 138-40; at 
Garden Grove, 135 — 36; at Mt. 
Pisgah, 136-37; at Council Bluffs, 
137-40; at Winter Quarters, 145; 
across the plains, 150-83 passim 
(see also 192-95); trek of 1847, 
150—75; serves as scout, 152; letter 
to Vilate, 152 — 53; enjoys experi- 
ence, 155; meets Pawnees, 157; in- 



vents furnace, 158; hunts buffalo, 
158-59; prairie fire, 159; meets 
Sioux, 160—61; remonstrates with 
Pioneers, 161; at Ft. Laramie, 
163-64; meets Jim Bridger, 165- 
66; at Ft. Bridger, 166-67; illness 
of Young, 167-68; enters Valley, 
168 — 69; in tne Valley, 170-73; de- 
scription of Valley, 171; advises Pi- 
oneers to kill buffalo, 171; returns 
to Winter Quarters, 173-75; meets 
Crow and Sioux, 174; chased by 
grizzly bear, 174-75, i76n; trek 
west in 1848, 180-83, i83n; leads 
one company, 180; attacked by 
Otos and Omahas, 181; death in 
his company, 181-82; Mary Field- 
ing's famous ox, 182; illness of 
daughter, 182; reunion in Valley, 183 


34-35, 36, 37-178 passim; do- 
nates to church, 20; in Ohio, 
27-42, 68; member of Zion's 
Camp, 28-35 passim; works on 
temple, 29; present at Zelph inci- 
dent, 30-31; mob attack at Fishing 
River, 31-32; attacked by cholera, 
32; returns to Kirtland, 33; attends 
school, 33, 37; reads Doctrine and 
Covenants, 34; called as Apostle, 
35; at dedication of temple, 37; and 
Kirtland Safety Society, 40; return 
from England, 53; in Missouri, 
55-62; encounters slavery, 55-56; 
at Far West, 56-62 passim; at 
Adam-ondi-Ahman, 56; Battle of 
Crooked River, 57-58; attack on 
Far West, 58-59; letter of appoint- 
ment from Joseph Smith, 59-60; 
sends family to Illinois, 60; works 
to free Joseph Smith from jail, 
60-61; receives revelation, 61-62, 
63n; and dedication of Far West 
temple site, 62; in Nauvoo, 64-69, 
81-90, 93-124; meets with Joseph 
Smith, 65; attends Hebrew class, 
65; given new responsibilities as 
Apostle, 81-82; temple work, 
85-86, 116-19, 199-201; intro- 

duced to polygamy, 86-87 ( see 
also Polygamy); organizes the 
Young Gentlemen and Ladies Relief 
Society of Nauvoo, 103-4; stumps 
for Joseph Smith, 106-7; becomes 
de facto first counselor to Young, 
114; directs missionary work, 115; 
helps direct church after death of 
Joseph Smith, 1 13-24 passim; 
prophecies, 120, 187, 190, 201, 
211, 2i7n, 283-85; member of the 
First Presidency, reorganized, 
178-79, 180-299 passim; colo- 
nizer, 191-92; work with Great 
Basin Indians, 192-95; smokes 
pipe of peace, 193; on Indian slav- 
ery, 193-94; family adopts Indi- 
ans, 193-94; and Walker War, 
194-95; political life, 196-98, 
206-7, 260-66; Chief Justice, 
State of Deseret, 197-98; Lieuten- 
ant Governor, State of Deseret, 198, 
264-66 passim; president of the 
Senate, 198; directs cultural affairs, 
201-3; and Deseret Alphabet, 203; 
member of the Senate, Territory of 
Utah, 206-8; Reformation, 
207-10; Adam-God doctrine, 209; 
handcart companies, 210-11; Utah 
War, 212-16; style, 253, 268-70, 
279, 280, 283; and U.S. Army, 
260-66; preacher, 268-85; his 
theology, 270-75; metaphors, 
270-71; authoritarianism, 270- 
71, 272, 299 

-spiritual LIFE: Spiritual experi- 
ences, xiii; spiritual gifts man- 
ifested, 17; sign in heavens, 18; 
receives gifts of Holy Ghost, 19- 
20; Zelph incident, 30, 31; Zion's 
Camp delivered, 31-32; in Kirt- 
land temple, 37, 86; heals woman, 
38, 48; gift of tongues, 39, 1 17; 
with Satan, 47-48; in England, 52, 
54n; revelation to, 61—62, 63n; en 
route to Kirtland, 67-68; at 
Young's transfiguration, 113; with 
special cane, 248; at death of Vi- 
late, soon 




Kimball, Abbie Sarah (daughter), 

2.31, 3i3 

Kimball, Abigail (sister), 5, 254 

Kimball, Abraham Alonzo (son), 
14m, 143, 146, 223, 226n, 230, 
240, 243n, 248, 251, 256n, 

Kimball, Albert (son), 229, 309 

Kimball, Alice Ann (daughter), 309, 

Kimball, Andrew (son), 251, 309 

Kimball, Anna Spaulding (mother), 
4, 5, 12, 22n 

Kimball, Augusta (daughter), 251, 

Kimball, Brigham Willard (son), 
107, 146, 232, 240, 251, 311 

Kimball, Caroline Williams (daugh- 
ter-in-law), 193 

Kimball, Charles (brother), 5, 8, 
10, 14 

Kimball, Charles Spaulding (son), 
103, 229, 240, 251, 252, 311, 

Kimball, David (son), 133, 146, 

Kimball, David (brother), 5 
Kimball, David Eagle (adopted 

Ute), 193 
Kimball, David Heber (son), 229, 

Kimball, David Orson (son), 182, 

Kimball, David Patton (son), 66, 
75-76, 194, 223, 232, 243n, 
248, 251, 256n, 257n, 303, 311, 

Kimball, Elias (son), 232, 251, 

Kimball, Eliza (sister), 5, 254 
Kimball, Ethan (cousin), 79n 
Kimball, Heber Chase (grandson), 

Kimball, Heber Parley (son), 66, 

67,303, 3i9 
Kimball, Helen (daughter), 12, 28, 
,58,66, 67,76, 87, 89-90,95, 
97,98, 106, i09n, 113-14, 

121-22, 129, 131, 136, 143, 

144, 177, 182, 203, 233, 243n, 
304, 311, 319 

Kimball, Henry (son), 229, 311 
Kimball, Hiram (cousin), 75, 79n, 

152, 251 
Kimball, Hyrum (son), 251 
Kimball, Isaac A. (son), 143, 146, 

230, 232, 240, 251, 308, 319 
Kimball, Jacob (son), 229, 312 
Kimball, James (grandfather), 4 
Kimball, John Heber (son), 229, 

Kimball, Jonathan Golden (son), 

88, 137, 200-201, 229, 250-51, 

286n, 303, 309, 320 
Kimball, Joseph (son), 200, 229, 

Kimball, Judith Marvin (daughter), 

Kimball, Margaret Jane (daughter), 

Kimball, Melvina (sister), 5, 254 
Kimball, Meribah (grandmother), 

Kimball, Phineas (cousin), 79n 
Kimball, Rachel (daughter), 146, 

. 4I3 
Kimball, Richard (ancestor), 4 

Kimball, Rosalia (daughter), 229, 

307, 3 12 -, 3 l 9 
Kimball, Roswell Heber (son), 12, 

Kimball, Samuel Chase (son), 150, 

188, 312 
Kimball, Sarah Helen (daughter), 

143, 146, 229, 311 
Kimball, Solomon (brother), 5, 12, 

Kimball, Solomon F. (father), 4, 5, 

6, 7n, 9, 12 
Kimball, Solomon Farnham (son), 

145, 146, 177,2.29, 232, 240, 

303, 311, 3i9 
Kimball, Spencer W. (grandson), 

8on, 30m, 309, 320 
Kimball, Ursula Scott (ancestor), 4 
Kimball, Willard Heber (son), 229, 




Kimball, William Henry (son), 12, 
66, 81, 129, 136, 143, 144, 146, 
147, 193, 201, 223, 229, 232, 
240, 24311, 248, 250, 251, 254, 
2-59", 303> 3* 1 * 3 J 9 


Barnes, Hulda, 229, 234; and fam- 
ily, 307 

Buchanan, Abigail, 230; and family, 

Chase, Charlotte, 122, 230; and 
family, 308 

Cutler, Clarissa, 117, 122, 129, 
133, 146, 180, 230, 240; and 
family, 308 

Cutler, Emily, 117, 122, 129, 143, 

146, 180, 230; and family, 308 
Doty, Elizabeth, 147, 230, 234; and 

family, 308 

Dull (Duell), Mary, 230; and fam- 
ily, 308 

Fielding, Mary, 122, 143, i83n, 
229; and her ox, 14m, 164, 182; 
and family, 308 

Gheen, Amanda, 102, 122, 143, 

147, 229, 234, 245, 318; and 
family, 309 

Gheen, Ann Alice, 102, 122, 143, 
147, 229, 245, 30m, 318; and 
family, 309 

Golden, Christeen, 129, 143, 144, 
147, 183, 216, 229, 232, 234, 
240, 319; and family, 309 

Harmon, Sophronia, 230; and fam- 
ily, 309 

Harris, Mary Ellen, 122, 143, 144, 
146, 147, 183, 18311, 229, 234, 
238, 240, 247, 319; and family, 

Hereford, Elizabeth, 230; and fam- 
ily, 310 

Houston, Mary, 122, 143, 229, 
234, 297, 319; and family, 310 

Huntington, Presendia, 122, i25n, 

143, 144, 147, 177, 229, 234, 
2-97, 3 X 95 an d family, 310 

Lawrence, Sarah, 122, 129, 143, 

144, 147, 230; and family, 310 
McBride, Martha, 122, i25n, 229, 

2-34, 2.39, 2-97, 307; and family, 

McMinn, Margaret, 230; and fam- 
ily, 310 

Moon, Dorothy, 230, 231, 234; 
and family, 310 

Moon, Hannah, 230, 231, 234; 
and family, 311 

Morley, Theresa, 229, 3 ion; and 
family, 3 n 

Murray, Vilate (first wife): youth, 
10— 11, 22n; meets Kimball, 
10— 1 1; marriage and family life, 
10, 11-12, 15, 36, 57, 64-65, 
66-67,74-76, 81, 103, 
121-22, i43-44> 145. x 77> 2.33, 
234, 240, 245, 289, 311, 319; 
joins Baptist church, 14; joins 
Mormon church, 19; contacts 
with relatives in New York, 21, 
39, 107, 215, 253, 254; letters 
from Kimball, 41, 42, 49 — 50, 68, 
74, 99-100, 104, 105, 106-7, 
152-53, 187, 231, 326; in Mis- 
souri, 57, 58, 60; in Illinois, 
64-65; in Nauvoo, 66, 67, 
74-76, 81; letters to Kimball, 
68, 74, 75, 76, 79n, 96, 97, 
100-101, 104, 107, 108, 154; 
poems, 75, 101, 145-46; temple 
ordinances, 86, 105; and polyg- 
amy, 93, 94, 95-97, 99, 100, 
101, 102, 229, 231, 237, 239, 
241; revelation on and support of 
polygamy, 96, 102, 231, 239; 
center of Kimball's emotional life, 

99, 101-2, 231, 234; harmony 
with Kimball's other wives, 95, 

100, 177, 239, 240; comments 
on Joseph Smith's death, 108; 
across Iowa, 1 29, 131; at Winter 
Quarters, 143, 146, 147, 150; Pi- 
oneer trek of 1848, 182; in Utah, 
183, 229, 232, 289, 187-295 
passim; spends summers with 
son, 240; Ludlow's description 
of, 240—41; death and burial, 
295, 30on, 30m 

Peak, Sarah (first plural wife), 95, 



97, ioo, 103, 104, 105, 107, 
129, 136, 143, 146, 229, 233, 
234, 240, 30m, 319; and family, 

Pierce, Ruth L, 230; and family, 

Pitkin, Abigail, 76, 95, 230; and 
family, 312 

Pitkin, Laura, 76, 95, 144, 177, 
234, 238, 240, 30m; and family, 

Reese, Ruth, 143, 229, 234, 240, 
319; and family, 312 

Sanders, Ellen, 122, i24n, 129, 
134, 143, 146, 147, 150, 152, 
163, 183, i83n, 229, 234, 239, 
30m, 319; and family, 312 

Sanders, Harriet, i24n, 129, 136, 
143, 147, 150, 152, 183, 229, 
234, 319; and family, 312 

Schuler, Sarah, 229, 307; and fam- 
ily, 3i3 

Scott, Sarah, 122, 230; and family, 

Sessions, Sylvia Porter, 122, 230; 

and family, 313 
Shefflin, Mary Ann, 143, 144, 147, 

183, 230; and family, 313 
Smithies, Mary, 52, 143, 230, 231, 

234, 240, 318; and family, 313 
Stiles, Sarah, 122, 230; and family, 

Swan, Frances, 122, 129, 143, 144, 

183, 230; and family, 314 
Swain, Rebecca, 122, 229, 251; 

and family, 314 
Walker, Lucy, 97, 99, 11 in, 122, 

123, i25n, 129, 143, 144, 146, 

183, 229, 234, 239, 245, 297, 

318; and family, 314 
Wellington, Ruth, 230; and family, 

Whitney, Sarah Ann, 95, 102, 122, 

i25n, 129, 133, 143, 146, 177, 

182, 229, 245, 297, 30m, 318; 

and family, 314 
Wilcox, Adelia, 194, 206, 21 8n, 

230, 231, 234, 239, 240; and 

family, 315 

Winchester, Nancy Maria, 122, 
i25n, 229, 230; and family, 315 
Kimball Family Association, 7n, 

Kimball Family Cemetery, 219, 299, 

30m, 303, 313 
Kimball Island, 194, 222 
KimbalPs wives. See Kimball, Heber 

King, Austin A., 61 
King, William A., 14m, 147 
Kirtland, Ohio, 3, 4, 20, 23n, 27-42 

passim, 53, 55, 82, 118, 204n, 326 
Kirtland Temple, 29, 30, 37-38, 53, 

Knight, Martha. See Martha McBride 

under Kimball's wives 
Knight, Vinson, 307, 310 
Koch, Albert C, 160 
Kolob, 158 
Kotzebue, Augustus von, 105 

Lake Champlain, 4 
Lamanite, 31, 43n 
Lancashire, England, 45 — 53 passim, 

71, 8on 
LaRamie, Jacques, 163 
Laramie Peak, Wyoming, 161 
Law, William, 97, 108 
Lawrence, Sarah. See Kimball's wives 
Lay, Hark, i49n 
Layton, Christopher, 228 
Ledbury, England, 71 
Lee, John D., 228 
Lee, Robert E., xi 
Leigh, England, 71 
Leonard, Pedro, 192 
Lewis and Clark, 137 
Liberty, Missouri, 32, 59, 61, 83 
Liberty Jail, 59, 61 
Lima, Illinois, 67, 103, 104 
Lincoln, Abraham, 64, 266 
Lion House, 255 
Liverpool, England, 44, 70, 73 
Livesey,J., 49 
Livesey, Richard, 49 
Locust Creek, Iowa, 133-34 
London, England, 71-77 passim, 8on 
London Times, 71 



Longridge, England, 48 
Lost Ten Tribes, 72 
Louisiana, Missouri, 30, 31, 59 
Loup River, 157 
Ludlow, Fitz Hugh, 219-20, 

240-41, 278, 282-83 
Luminary, The, \y<) 
Lyman, Amasa, 180, 181 
Lyonstown, New York, 20 

McCarey, William, 145 

McDonald, A. R, 291 

McLellin, William E., 12, 33, 35, 36, 

58-59, 60 
Maine, 36, 37 

Major, William M., 123, i25n 
Malta, 199 

Mammoth bones, 160 
Manchester, England, 70, 71, 73, 77, 

Manifesto, 197 
Manti, Iowa, 240, 243n 
Manti Temple, 201 
Manti, Utah, 204n 
Marks, William, 113 
Marriage (temple marriage), 88, 92n, 

Marsh, Thomas B., 35, 36, 60 
Martin, Priscilla Whitney, 38-39 
Maryland, 30 
Masonry and Mormonism, 12-13, 

21, 22n, 64, 83-85, 9m, 105, 255 
Massachusetts, 4, 104, 108 
Meeks, Priddy, 182 
Mendon, New York, 10-21 passim, 

36,68, 219, 254, 327 
Mercantile and Mechanical Associa- 
tion, 116 
Merrill, Juliette, 31 1 
Methodism, 15, 18, 22n, 45, 49, 

i83n, 327 
Mexicans. See Mexico 
Mexican War, 139, 14m, 157, 196 
Mexico, 169, 196, 214; Mexican 

slavery, 192 
Michigan, 31 
Millennial Star y 70, 77, 195, 205, 

242, 258 
Miller, George, 133 

Miller, James Knox Polk, 278-79 
Miller, Melinda, 147 
Mississippi, 163 
Mississippi River, 31, 123, 124, 

Mississippi Saints, 151, 163, 172 
Missouri, 20, 28-33 passim, 48, 

55-62 passim, 83, 104, 106, 131, 

i33> *37> i3 8 > M* n , M^> 163, 

199, 212, 263, 326, 327 
Missouri River, 29, 31, 137, 143, 

158, 210, 276 
Mitchell, Robert B., 138 
Montrose, Iowa, 65, 84, 107, 123, 

Moon, Dorothy. See Kimball's wives 
Moon, Hannah. See Kimball's wives 
Morgan City, Illinois, 103 
Morley, Theresa. See Kimball's wives 
Mormon, The, 199 
Mormon Battalion, 139-40, 14m, 

146, 150, 163, 166, 172, 178 
Mormon courts, 198 
Mormon Trail, xiii, 156, 159. See also 

chapters 11, 13, 14 
Mountain men, 171 
Mt. Pisgah, Iowa, 131, 133, 137, 139 
Murray, Carlos, 68, 145, 147 
Murray, Jennette, 68, 143, 147, 152 
Murray, Laura, 21 5 
Murray, Roswell, 10, 23n, 67, 75, 

Murray, Roswell G., 254, 259 
Murray, Susannah Fitch, 22n, 311 
Murray, Vilate. See Kimball's wives 
Murray, William E., 22n, 68, 143, 

Music in Utah, 202 

National Road, 30 

Nauvoo, Illinois, xii, 13, 64—67 pas- 
sim, 74-76 passim, 81-109 pas- 
sim, 113-24 passim, 137, 143, 
150, 156, 170, 191, 208, 248, 284; 
drama in, 105 

Natwoo Expositor, 107 

Nauvoo Legion, 82; in Utah, 196, 
208, 212, 215, 264 

Nauvoo Library, 1 16 



Nauvoo Manufacturing Association, 

Nauvoo Neighbor, 116, 121 

Nauvoo Temple, 38, 64, 86, 1 14-19, 
199, 248 

Nauvoo Trades Committee, 116 

Nebraska, 101, 132, 133, 140, 
143-48 passim, i48n, 150, 
155-61 passim, 170, 172, 175, 
178, 180, 181, 193, 230 

Neibaur, Alexander, 5 1 

Nephite. See Lamanite 

New England, 29, 53 

New Hampshire, 4, 36 

New Mexico, 192 

New Portage, Ohio, 30 

New York, xiii, 6, 6n, 7n, 8 — 21 pas- 
sim, 23n, 27, 36, 38, 39, 48, 68, 
75, 107, 134, 215, 219, 253 

New York City, 41—42, 53, 69, 78, 
104, 326 

New York Times, 294, 299 

New York Tribune, 279, 291 

Noble, Joseph Bates, 95 

Noon, Elizabeth, 143, 311 

Noon, Harriet Frances, 143, 311 

Norway, i24n, 150, 151, 312 

Norwegians. See Norway 

Noyes, John, 87 

Ogden, Utah, 191 

Ogdensburg, New York, 38 

Ohio, xiii, 14, 20, 27, 29, 33-41 pas- 
sim, 30, 40, 48, 65, 66, 104, 132, 

Old Fort, 172 

Omaha Daily Herald, 299 

Omaha, Nebraska, 140 

Ontario Messenger, 9 

Oregon, 116, 120, 121, 131, 137, 
153, 156, 163, 164, 165, 197 

Oregonians. See Oregon 

Oregon Trail, xiv, 133, 153, 156, 
159, 161, 163, 164, 167, 181, 

Orphan of Geneva, 105-6 

Osprey, 106 

Overland Road, 263, 264, 265, 

Overland Stage, 223 
Oxteamology, 131 

Pacific Islands, 178, 199 

Pacific Springs, 165, 173 

Pack, Lucy, 249, 311 

Page, John E., 62 

Palmyra Freeman, 1 5 

Palmyra, New York, 20 

Panic of 18 19, 9 

Panic of 1837, 40 

Paris, Illinois, 30 

Parowan, Utah, 201 

Patrick Henry, 69 

Patten, David W., 12, 35, 36, 57-58, 
66, 2i7n, 252, 257n, 297 

Patten, Phoebe Ann, 58 

Payson, Illinois, 103 

Payson, Utah, 246 

Peak, Sarah. See Kimball's wives 

Pennsylvania, 16, 19, 27, 96, 98, 104, 
106, 1 13 

Penwortham, England, 51 

Perpetual Emigration Fund, 191, 
i95n, 222, 289 

Peter, the Apostle, 37 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 96, 104, 

Phonography, 115 

Phrenology, 64, 82, 9on, 9 in 

Pioneers: across Iowa in 1846, 
129-40; west of Winter Quarters 
in 1847, 150-70; renew covenants, 
172; Second Division of 1847, 147, 
166, 173; return to Winter Quar- 
ters in 1847, 172-75; of 1848, 

Pierce, Franklin, 260 

Pierce, Ruth L. See Kimball's wives 

Pitchforth, Ann, 121 

Pitkin, Abigail. See Kimball's wives 

Pitkin, Laura. See Kimball's wives 

Pitt, William, 129-30, 138 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 98, 104, 113 

Pittsfield, Illinois, 67, 103 

Pizarro, 105 

Plains Indians, 157, 160, 174, 192 

Platte River, 150, 154, 155, 157, 158, 
161, 164, 181 



Platte River Ferry, 164, 166 

Pittsburgh, New York, 38 

Pleasant Grove, Indiana, 67 

Polk, James K., 139, 197 

Polygamy, xvn, 52, 138, 14 m, i84n, 
197, 202, 203, 208, 245, 246, 
258n, 262, 277, 285, 291; Kimball 
and, xi, xii, 52, 62, 64, 86-87, 
92n, 93-103, 117, 122-23, I2 -5 n , 
151, 201, 209, 213, 227-41, 250, 

265, 266, 277, 291, 296-97, 30m, 
303-4, 307-20; trials of, xii, 93, 
^6, 97, 98, 99-100, ioi, 102-3, 

123, M4-45. ^3°, ^3 X , 2 37, 
245-46; Kimball's revelation re- 
garding, 62, 95; in Nauvoo, 64, 
86-90, 92n, 93-103, 105, 117, 
121, 122-23, i25n, 151; in Utah, 
77, 103, 201, 209, 216, 227-41, 
243n, 245-56 passim, 258n, 265, 

266, 270, 296 — 97, 298; in Ohio, 
86-87; revelation regarding, 
86-87; Joseph Smith and, 86-87, 

93, 95, 97, 98-99, ^37, 3n; Old 
Testament and, 88-89, 90, 102, 
238; Book of Mormon and, 89; 
Helen Kimball's support of and 
poem regarding, 89-90, 98, i09n; 
Belinda Marden Pratt's support of, 
89, 92n; Brigham Young and, 94, 
95, 103, 209, 230, 242n; Doctrine 
and Covenants and, 95; Vilate Kim- 
ball's vision regarding and support 
of, 96, 102, 231, 239; Lucy 
Walker's manifestation regarding, 
97; Mary Ann Pratt's vision regard- 
ing, 975 across Iowa, 129, 135-36; 
at Winter Quarters, 143-47, 177, 
181, 183; number of Kimball's 
wives, 227, 228, 307—16; Kim- 
ball's children and, 237, 243^ 
258n; Kimball's wives' views on, 
238-39; anti-polygamy legislation, 
264, 290; Mark Twain's comments 
on, 280; Artemus Ward's comments 
on, 281-82 

Polysophical Society, 203 

Pony Express, 248 

Potash, 5 

Potawatomi, 132, i39n, 14m 

Prairie fire, 159 

Pratt, Mary Ann, 96 

Pratt, Orson, 35, 60, 62, 69, 70, 85, 

97, 105, 150, 157, 178, 202, 293 
Pratt, Parley P., 35, 60, 69, 70, 85, 95, 

109, 113, 120, 133, 136, 167-68, 

203, 2i7n, 284, 292, 297 
Prayer circle, 137, 161 
Presbyterianism, 5, 18, 327 
Preston, England, 41, 45-53 passim, 

60, 70, 73 
Prophetic Warnings, 42 
Prostitution, 261 
Provo, Utah, 191, 216, 222, 234, 

261, 296 
Public Works Program, 190, 208, 212 
Puritans, 4, 131 

Queen Victoria, 45, 72-73, 277 
Quincy, Illinois, 59, 61, 64, 65, 67 
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, 12, 

33, 35, 36, 37, 70, 78, 178-79,198 

Railroads, 153, 154, 163, 210, 211, 

261, 277 
Rambova, Natacha. See Winifred 

Rappites, 87 
Redden, Naomi, 311 
Reed-Donner Party, 156, 167 
Reese, Ruth. See Kimball's wives 
Reformation in Utah, 203, 207-10 

passim, 230, 231 
Relief Society, Church of Jesus Christ 

of Latter-day Saints, 289 
Religious Revival in western New 

York, 14 
Rich, Charles C, 95, 173, 190, 198 
Richards, Franklin Dewey, 198 
Richards, Willard, 41, 53, 70, 86, 95, 

105, 113, 115, 133, 139, 179-80, 

197, 206, 208, 210, 2i7n, 246, 

248, 284, 297 
Richardson, Albert D., 278, 291 
Richmond, Indiana, 30 
Richmond, Missouri, 30, 61 
Rigdon, Sidney, 41, 60, 65 — 66, 85, 

113, 114 



Robinson, Ebenezer, 60 

Robinson, J. King, 290 

Rochester, New York, 14, 15, 215 

Rochester, 78 

Rochester Daily Advertiser, 15 

Rockwell, Orrin Porter, 143, 154, 198 

Rockwell, Merrit, 143 

Rockwood, A. P., 293 

Rocky Mountains, 4, 122, 146, 156, 

167, 168 
Ross, William, 69n 
Ross, Mrs. William, 64, 103 
Roubidoux smithy, 181 
Russell, Isaac, 41,52 

Sackett's Harbor, New York, 38 
St. Albans, Vermont, 38 
St. George Temple, 199, 201 
St. Louis, Missouri, 55, 59, 104, 106, 
137, 138, 14211, 146, 160, 190, 

Salem, Massachusetts, 108 
Salt Lake City, Utah, 15, 144, 

187-299 passim 
Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir, 202 
Salt Lake Temple, 199, 255-56 
Salt Lake Theatre, 202, 255 
Sanders, Ellen. See Kimball's wives 
Sanders, Harriet. See Kimball's wives 
San Diego, California, 191, 197 
San Francisco, California, 276, 279 
Sangamon Journal, 103 
Sanitation on western trails, 132 
Santa Fe, New Mexico, 192 
School of the Prophets, 30on 
Schools in Utah, 202-3 
Schuler, Sarah. See Kimball's wives 
Scotland, 70, 73, 314 
Scott, Rebecca Ann, 315 
Scott, Sarah. See Kimball's wives 
Scott, Ursula, 4 

Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, 159, 161 
Second Endowment/Anointing, 92n, 

Separatists. See Puritans 
Sessions, Patty Bartlett, 132 
Sessions, Sylvia Porter. See Kimball's 

Seward, William H., 264 

Shakers, 87 

Shakespeare, 71 

Shaughnessy, Winifred, 311, 320 

Shefflin, Mary Ann. See Kimball's 

Sheldon, Vermont, 4, 5, 6, 6n, jn, 37, 

Sheridan, 44 

Sheridan, Richard, 11 in 

Sierra Nevada, 197 

Slavery, 55-56, 148, i49n, 192, 193, 
197, 212 

Social Hall, 202, 207 

Smith, Alice K., 242n 

Smith, Elijah, 27 

Smith, Emma, 59, 98-99, i83n 

Smith, George A., 62, 69, 70, 71, 
104, 113, 180, 293, 298 

Smith, Hyrum, 82, 83, 113, 122, 141, 
204n, 2i7n, 248, 309, 315, 327 

Smith, Jerusha, 182 

Smith, John, 173 

Smith, Joseph: 41,46, 51, 53, 56,71, 
76, 113-23 passim, i25n, 143, 
178, 204n, 2i7n, 2i8n, 243n, 248, 
271, 274, 327; character, xi, xvn; 
meets Young, 3; meets Kimball, 3; 
in New York, 14-17 passim; in 
Kirtland, Ohio, 27, 29, 33 — 41 pas- 
sim; and Zion's Camp, 27, 29, 
33—41 passim; revelations, 3-4, 
33-34; and Kirtland Safety Society, 
40; in Missouri, 58-61; in Nau- 
voo, 64-69 passim, 81-109 pas- 
sim; and Masonry, 83 — 85, 9m; 
and temple ordinances, 85-86, 
105; and polygamy, 86, 87, 95, 97, 
98-99, 237, 311; runs for the pres- 
idency, 106; and the Nauvoo Ex- 
positor, 107; death, 108, 11 in; 
widows of, 122, i25n, i83n, 
^-97> 307, 308, 310, 313, 314; 
Kimball's views of, 272-73 

Smith, Joseph, III, i83n 

Smith, Joseph E, 295, 309, 320 

Smith, Joseph Fielding, 309 

Smith, Samuel, 15, 19 

Smith, William, 35, 60 

Snow, Eliza R., 243n, 298 



Snow, Erastus, 95, zi6n 

Snow, Lorenzo, xvn, 77, 198, 243 n, 

272, 286n 
Snow, Zerubbabel, 206, 207, 2i6n 
Smithies, James, 52, 14m, 143, 313 
Smithies, Mary. See Kimball's wives 
Smithies, Nancy Knowles, 52 
Snyder, John, 41, 223 
Sons of Utah Pioneers, 154 
South Africa, 199 
South America, 44 
Southcott, Joanna, 73 
South Pass, Wyoming, 164, 165, 182 
Spain, 168, 169 
Spaulding, Anna (mother), 4 
Spencer, Daniel, 198 
Spencer, Orson, 198 
Sprague, S. D., 194 
Springfield, Illinois, 30, 99, 103 
Springfield, Ohio, 30 
Springfield Republican, 291 
Springville, Utah, 216 
Staffordshire, England, 70 
State of Deseret, 188, 197-98,212, 

Stenhouse, Fanny, 293 
Steptoe, Col. E. J., 250 
Stiles, Sarah. See Kimball's wives 
Still Waters Run Deep, 202 
Stockton, Comm. Robert E, 175 
Strang, Jesse J., 95 
Sugar Creek, 123, 129, 130, 133 
Sunday School, 289 
Surry, England, 71 
Swain, Rebecca. See Kimball's wives 
Swan, Frances Jessie. See Kimball's 

Swan, Margaret Jane, 143 
Sweden, 251 

Sweetwater River, 158, 164, 182, 211 
Swiss emigrants, 117 

Tabernacle, 189, 255, 260, 268, 289, 

Tabiyuna, 194 
Taylor, John, 62; in England, 70, 113; 

and polygamy, 95; indicted for 

counterfeiting, 120, 133, 150, 179, 

198, 202, 225n, 246, 285 

Taylor, Zachary, 197 

Teetotalism, 45 

Temperance movement in England, 

45, 5*, 73 
Temple ordinances, 85-86, 92n 
Temple Square, 232, 255 
Temples, 29, 30, 37 — 3 8 » 53> 64, 86, 

114-19, 199, 201, 248, 255-56 
Temple work, 199-201, 229 
Terre Haute, Indiana, 67 
Thailand, 199 
Theatre in Utah, 202 
Theo-democracy, 196 
Thompson, Robert B., 79n 
Thompsonian medicine, 246 
Times and Seasons, 42n, 103, 115, 

116, 121 
Tooele, Utah, 291 
Toronto, Joseph, 14 in 
Three Nephites, 76 
Three Witnesses, 35, 60 
Traders, 163 
Trappers, 156, 163 
Turley, Theodore, 72 
Turnpikes, 6, 10 

Union Vedette, 265, 266, 28 7n, 28 8n, 

290, 291, 294 
United States Army, 223, 260-66 

passim, z6jn, 275, 283, 289, 327 
Universal Scientific Society, 202 
University of the City of Nauvoo, 82 
University of Deseret, 198 
University of Utah, 198 
"Upper California, The," 130 
Utah, xiii, 48, 101, 103, 114, 117, 
118, 119, 140, 14m, i48n, 
187-304 passim 
Utah Library, 202, 255 
Utah Militia, 212, 215. See also Nau- 
voo Legion 
Utah State Fair Association, 224 
Utah Territory, 187—304 passim 
Utah War, 188, 212-16, 260 
Utah War Songs, 213-14 
Utes, 192, 194-95 

Valentino, Rudolph, 311, 320 
Valley of the Great Salt Lake, 1 31, 

A Note on the Author 

Stanley B. Kimball is a great-great-grandson of Heber C. Kimball. 
He spent his early childhood in Utah. In 1959 he received his 
Ph.D. from Columbia University and is currently professor of his- 
tory at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, where he has 
taught for twenty-one years. 

Professor Kimball has written four books of Mormon his- 
tory, four books of East European history, and over sixty articles 
on these subjects; belongs to every major professional society in 
both fields; and currently serves as historian of the Mormon Pi- 
oneer Trail Foundation. He served as a guide for the National 
Geographic study of the Mormon Trail. For his work on the Mor- 
mon Trail, the Department of the Interior in 1974 awarded him 
the Outdoor Recreation Achievement Award. He and 
his wife Violet have four children. 





Date Due 

All library items are subject to recall 3 weeks from 
the original date stamped. 

% Mp^kr' MAR 2 200' 
/ Sits '■>' p ^ i h 



JUL 27 201% 

AUb 3 1 ¥0g 

NOV?]) 201 

k -' !^ (1 

JUN 1 5 70i)7 


JAN 4 20 )5 

/AW 5 7flflt 

iv^.9 7nn7 





^ 9 7(106 

jan o q ?nnfi 

DCC] UO fr 

"91/ 6 200? 

\ ? 

'cil Mount 

- Pi f^n Gr T 
>0 \Grove \ 


'■rand R' 


Locust Ck ' { R : D 

DEC 01 im 

Oregon . , 

wo 8m ^aprTT 

i £<£o 
^ CaiTvoj 



y*?>^. <j^«v ^^rr^. />a*\. ,'^\. 





..BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY *7 t£*<^ ~^A^s^JZf7s~?^^ ,A*^ 21 

3 1197 21367 5942 

Points of Interest 

in the Life of 
Heber C. Kimball 

1 00 





-^ ' 

pnngficH S Ifidianap^ 

. I. OUts 


if"** N 



4^ ■•■ ■